It’s often said that introverts prefer a small circle of close friends. I find this to be true for me. I definitely do like to know a few people very well and be known well by them. I enjoy being with those who “get me” and as a result, we are able to engage in deep conversations. Many introverts may be content with a small group of friends, and that is great. However, I also want to develop more relationships among those at work, my church group, my neighborhood, and other areas in my life. This part has not always come easy to me, but I have found and continue to find some strategies to facilitate getting to know more people.
When it comes to making relationships, working side by side with someone either regularly or on a project is what works best for me – meaning it’s the easiest setting for me to get to know someone. I have heard this described as building relationships as you “roll up your sleeves” with someone. But there are times where I want to build a relationship but I do not work closely with the person. One strategy I have found that has worked for me is to slow down a little. Let me explain.
Most of my life I have not liked small talk. It is not the type of deep conversation I enjoy. I have come to realize that, even though I don’t enjoy it, often this small talk is the gateway to better relationships and deeper conversations. I have learned that I need to slow down sometimes and pay more attention to those around me. Instead of rushing through small talk to get it over with, I try to listen and use the conversation to get to know the person a bit better. Thinking about small talk in this way helps the whole ordeal of small talk seem less “small” because I have a purpose, and also gives me some direction in subject matter (i.e., what to say next) – something I’ve often struggled with as a thinker. And, as a bonus, each time I engage this person, I’m building the foundation of a relationship.
Another strategy is that when I am going from place to place, I try to slow down a bit and take the time to say “hello” to those I pass. In meetings where it’s appropriate, I try to engage in a little conversation before digging straight into business. And, instead of bolting as fast as I can after meetings or other gatherings end, I linger just a bit more than usual to engage people – recognizing that this is another opportunity to build a relationship.
I am definitely getting better at relationship building. By slowing down and making the effort to get to know others, I can expand my little group of friends over time. I believe, as introverts, we can achieve whatever we want with a better understanding of ourselves.