Many shy or introverted people (myself included) positvely dread making phone calls to anyone but our innermost circle of friends – and sometimes even to them, depending on what we have to say. But you don’t have to be shy to dread certain conversations. Having to make them over the phone, without being able to get feedback from your addressee’s face, doesn’t exactly help. So we keep putting those calls off, agonising over how to do it, and knowing that we should. Here’s how you pick up the phone and get it done – even though you’re terrified.
If you’re not faced with the immediate need to make an important call on the spot – say, because some emergency happened or you need to call the police/an ambulance -, there are some simple strategies for making it so much easier. Take a minute (or two, or thirty) and just think it through. Here are some strategies that I find extremely helpful. When I wanted to quit my job, but couldn’t meet my boss in person because I had just broken my foot, I think I followed all of these tipps, actually. It went well – my boss accepted my decision (she kind of wanted me to stay, because teaching new people the ropes is time consuming, of course) and we left it on very good terms.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about what being introverted means, apart from the basic definition. Which, by the way, many people have only a fuzzy concept of, to begin with. (“What do you mean, socialising drains you? We’re not that horrid!”) But more than that, I’ve been thinking about characteristics which we introverts tend to share and things via which we connect to others and the world around us. I also did some research into the scientific insights and came up with a handy list of facts about introverts.
We introverts know the value of some good, refreshing silence. Aaaaah. Silence. Yes. There are situations, however, when silence can become awkward and unpleasant even for us. Car trips. Visitors. People who stare at you expectantly because they are shy and/or introverted too and hope you will make the first move. In these cases, less introverted persons usually resort to small talk – anything to fill the void and banish the silence! But what are people to do who dread lengthy talk about the weather more than dentist appointments? Who would rather have a deep and meaningful conversation, but do not feel sufficiently accquainted with the current conversation partner to do so? Fear not, my fellow introverts, for I am going to let you in on some secrets. The art of small talk for introverts.
I’d like to mention, by the way, that my credentials in this regard are impressive. For example, I recently had a six-hour car trip with a loose acquaintance. It was not the least bit awkward and I ended up making a genuine new friend. Being from the countryside and, consequently, having had a beat-up old car since age 18 has really helped me get so much better small talk. When you drive people around all the time, you learn to fill the silence with something other than complaining about other drivers. So let me share my petrol-fuelled wisdom.
As I explained last week, “Get out of your comfort zone!” is my pet peeve and the piece of thoughtless, bad advice that I dislike the most (read why here). But there are a few more pieces of advice and conventional wisdom that I’d like to talk about, because they are regularly and liberally thrown about, but can be terribly harmful. They tend to be especially bad advice for introverts, high sensitives or anxious people, but really, some of these “gems” are shitty advice no matter who you’re talking to, and they’re worth thinking about for everyone – the advisors and the advised.