Have you ever tried to survive a conference with an introvert?
It can be quite challenging –not only for the introvert but for their extroverted companions.
Here are some ideas to help both of you survive.
These ideas come from my own experiencing with my beloved introvert and may not apply to all introverts.
1) Understand as much as you can. If you’re an extrovert you need to understand that being introverted isn’t a character flaw. If you think introvertedness is a flaw, this is going to be a bumpy conference (not to mention marriage or friendship). So, change the way you think about your introvert. Value the differences, the way that God made him. This is important. Very, very important.
2) Let them take breaks. I remember the first time my husband and I attended our annual homeschool conference. It was very overwhelming for him. We solved this problem by coming up with a number of solutions.
a) We located the closest exit in the event that he needed some fresh air.
b) We located low volume areas where he could get away from the crowd of 2,000 people.
c) I encouraged him to bring his laptop with his headset so he could watch a familiar Hulu show or play a game if he needed a break (this was before we had smartphones).
3) Make expectations clear. Here’s what I did:
a) Prepare. I told him ahead of time that I was okay if he skipped any of the sessions.
b) Schedule. I showed him the schedule ahead of time and let him know which sessions I would prefer to attend with him.
c) Set goals. I set goals like I want to at least go to the Math U See booth in the curriculum hall and attend Homeschooling Special Needs 101.
4) Appreciate what you have. Focus on the fact that your introvert was willing to attend and not about all the things you feel like he is missing. It’s a blessing that you have an introvert who is willing to deal with that sort of crowd to be with you at something that’s important to you.
5) Compromise. Be willing to leave if it just becomes too much. Leave with him if you’re able to. Leave permanently if you need to, or just go for a drive. All those people may be too much for him, but I bet he likes spending time with you and that it would mean a lot to him if you were willing to take a break with him.
6) Reprieve. Give him space when you get home, especially if he managed to make it through the entire day without needing a break. I’ve seen research that suggests that extremely introverted people need 10 minutes of alone time for every 1 hour that they’re with people. So if your introvert was “on” socially for 8 hours, that means he may need as much as 80 minutes (1 hour 20 minutes) to be socially “off.” Socially off means something different for an introvert than an extrovert: it means no one making any demands from them for that amount of time.
Remember that God made us all different. Just because he’s wired differently, doesn’t make it wrong.
My introvert is caring, considerate, kind, and an awesome listener.
I wouldn’t trade that for anything, not even a life-of-the-party conference goer.
Introvertedness does not need to be fixed. It needs to be understood and valued.
I have always appreciated it when my husband made the effort to attend the conference with me.