My brother is a master of keeping in touch. Really, he stays connected with everyone. His friends, classmates, relatives…Sometimes he asks me if I know Person X who was asking after me or he gives me details of his meet-up with that cousin to the brother of the niece of our great-grandmother and I am just there looking at him like…??. I really do not get how he does it.
Me? You’d be lucky to get a callback or a reply to your Whatsapp message from me. It’s nothing personal and is in no way a show of arrogance or pride. It’s just that as an introvert, it can be a bit overbearing for me. Sometimes I just want to be in my space undisrupted, and that means that calls and texts will go unanswered every so often. It gets worse when I am in a foul mood, because then, everything and everyone sucks, and it doesn’t matter whether Ragnarok’s coming to earth. No one will get through to me.
Again, it’s nothing personal. It’s just the way introverts are set up. We just want to stay in our bubbles and thrive there. We detest small talk, and interactions with other humans can be very exhausting for us. Every time we have to be at a social gathering, we tend to find the most secluded corner of the room and perch there like a wallflower, counting down the minutes before we can return to the safety of our homes.
As an introvert, you find it hard to keep in touch, even with your closest friends and family. And most of them don’t really understand, so they start to throw around statements like, “That one has money nowadays. She has no time for us.” or “Siku hizi anaringa, anajiona amefika” or “Tangu aangukie Oga bei yake imepanda“. Which then makes me want to stay away from them even more, because I have no energy and fake smiles to spare for exclamations like, “Yaani Laura you can’t call me?” “Si you are lost!” and “Umeninyamazia aje?” See, to channel Eminem (Stan), that’s the type of shit that makes me not want to meet you or call you. Because you make me feel bad about myself. And no one like to feel bad about themselves. But then, of course, there are also those amazing God-sent friends who will text/call you no matter how many times you forget to call or text them. God bless your sweet souls! (Hi Yvonne!)
Introverts tend to direct their energy towards their inner world. We get energized and motivated by reflecting more on our own thoughts and ideas. We really enjoy quiet and privacy, since it helps us concentrate. Introverts prefer to work on projects alone, but if we have to work in a team setting, we tend not to air our views as much, only if we have to. We pause to think and reflect before responding because we ensure that our thoughts, impressions, and reflections are well thought through. Additionally, most introverts prefer written to oral communication, and we would rather read thousands of lines in emails than attend a ten-minute meeting.
That said, it is very easy to lose touch with an introverted person, whether a spouse, child, workmate, boss or friend. So how do you ensure that doesn’t happen?
- Keep Reaching Out. Yes. Even when we don’t pick up. Give us a few days, weeks even. And reach out again. Most of the times we don’t call back because when you first called we were probably in one of those ‘I just want to be alone without any disruptions’ moods. However, we don’t want to call back because we feel like you won’t understand and will just be mad we didn’t pick your call. And ain’t nobody got time for that!
- One call is enough. Two is fine, but three, four, fives SIX calls in quick succession, simply because someone didn’t pick up the first time, is pushing it. And I feel like this is not even an introvert thing. It is universal. Like, yes Susan, I see you are trying to reach me, but for one reason or the other I can’t pick up right now. You blowing up my phone with six calls a minute isn’t going to make me pick it up any faster. On the contrary, it just infuriates me so much so that I will now intentionally refuse to pick up, and I will not even call you back. Ever.
- Be patient. If you are looking for genuine and solid feedback, especially during face-to-face engagements, give us time to gather their thoughts before they can respond. Spontaneous talk is not our cup of tea. I have gotten into a lot of arguments with my man because I don’t always respond to questions or give my opinion immediately. A typical conversation depicting this would go like this:
O: I feel like you ABCRDUUYYHJJJIIYWGW…
O: Did you hear what I said??
Me: I heard you.
O: Well why are you not saying anything?! It’s just rude!
Me: I’m thinking about what to say.
At first, he couldn’t understand why I have to take time to respond, and it would irk the life out of him. It took a couple more arguments and a lot of explaining on my part before he finally got it. Now, whenever he says something and I am quiet he asks, “Are you thinking about what to say? Take your time”. Sweet guy ?.
4. Don’t tell us to change. It is who we are. We don’t go around asking you to stop talking about everything with everyone, so stop sending clips and suggesting ways in which we can stop being anti-social and aloof and just accept us for who we are. In fact, put to good use the great traits that come with our being introverted, like critical thinking and observation skills.
5. It’s not personal. I think I have pretty much exhausted this somewhere up there.
6. We can be social too! We just need to know you enough to be comfortable to express ourselves around you.
7. Go small, and then go home. As I stated before, large crowds mostly make us uncomfortable. So whether it’s a birthday party, a wedding, a soirée, an office event…introverts prefer to keep it small, intimate and brief. Therefore, if you are planning a surprise party for them, that is the way to go. The rest of the world can go big or go home all they want. ?