Tips for Communicating with Introverted Friends or Family - Ron Edmondson

How do you communicate with introverted friends or family who may not want to engage as much as you do? I get that question regularly.

Over two years ago now, I received an email from a reader. I saved it and changed a few details of it to keep the writer anonymous but wanted to share my response in hopes it is helpful to others.

Important to know, this reader reached out to me because of my previous posts about being an introvert.

My adult granddaughter is an introvert. We don’t see her often since she lives 900 miles away; however she is staying with us for a couple of months while she serves an internship in a local ministry. We love her and want to enjoy conversation with her, but she would rather be left to herself in her room most of the time. I know she needs space but we have a desire to talk and visit, without being intrusive. It seems that the more secluded a person is, the more it leads to what could be construed to intrusiveness by those of us who are feeling ignored or left out of the person’s life. We are getting older and won’t be here forever.

Thank you.

My reply on communicating with a introverted family member

This is hard. And I understand it even more now that I have granddaughters of my own.

Keep in mind first that there are no two Introverts alike just as there are no two people. So, these are intended to help, but they may not all apply directly. Here are a few suggestions:. 

1. Try finding something you can do together. Something she enjoys or might enjoy. Just ask her. Is there an activity you would like to learn, such as cooking, knitting, playing board games, etc? There could be a cookie she wants to make sure she knows how to make.

2. See if she will walk with you. (If you’re able physically.) Most people talk more when we are active.

3. Correspond with her in text when you can. My mother resisted this for years but when I finally convinced her it was this or less communication from grandchildren, she started texting. It more than doubled the times she heard from family members.

4. Ask her. Be honest, caring, understanding, etc, but simply say, “We’d like to get to know you better, what’s the best way to do that.” 

5. Be careful not to make her feel inferior. Watch comments that put her in a defensive mode about being introverted. Avoid referring to her as “shy” to other people. These don’t draw people closer to you. They push them further away.

6. If she opens up and talks, let her “quit” when she’s ready. Don’t keep talking endlessly. She may welcome more conversations if it’s easy to get out of one.

7. Lower your expectations. I know that’s hard, but you can’t force her to do anything. The less pressure you put on the situation the more you can enjoy the times you have.

I hope this helps you deal with other introverted family members, friends or co-workers.

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