5 Steps to Being an Active Introvert

Joe the Active Introvert
5 min readJan 2, 2023

I’ll be attending conferences and visiting client sites in the coming months and have been thinking about my strategies to get the most out of each experience and not drain myself. Operative statement being not to drain myself of physical and mental energy.

I am a tried and true introvert, yet my day job is very extroverted (facilitating courses/web sessions, coaching, dialogues with individuals and teams to help solve problems, etc.). And I really do enjoy going to conferences to learn more about ideas, people, and opportunities to be better at helping myself and others be better human beings. So having a strategy to maintain energy and get the most out of these trips and experiences is really important.

These five steps and tips have helped me enjoy, engage, and “survive” both professional and personal events where introverts have to get their extrovert on.

  1. Make the event into something of interest to you — I know this sounds like an obvious point, but we’re often asked or required to attend events we may not be crazy about. Or we’re interested in the event/topic and dreading the interaction that’s expected. Consider the last time you went to a concert. Yes, there were a lot people you don’t know all in a relatively small space around you and having conversations at various sound volumes (geesh, just reading that statement makes me tense). Yet, when the lights go dark, stage lights go up, and the music begins, what are you focused on? The real event and something that interests you, right? Funny how, for the most part, all the other stuff seems to disappear right? Or at least, doesn’t get your primary attention. Find a focus for your event (or even the next 30 minutes) and let that be where your energy works. Everything else becomes background.

2. It’s ok to move on — Hey, look at you being all social and stuff! Nice. And you’re beginning to sense that your new friend has at least four more stories in her to share. Here’s the thing: You can step out of the conversation AND be respectful. You really can. Be honest (don’t lie or it will be a ghost in your head the rest of the event) and brief (2–3 sentences). Here are a few examples you can use or customize:

  • “Hey, I need to connect with a couple more people before the end (of this break, party, etc.). I enjoyed learning more about ______________. I look forward to seeing you again!”
  • “Joe, thank you for introducing yourself. It was nice to meet you and hear about your ______. I need to step away, so thank you for the chat.”
  • “Pat, it is nice to meet you. I need to move on and I look forward to seeing you again. Enjoy yourself.” Now if you’re thinking “Joe, those all sound rude to some degree. What will that extrovert think of me???” If you are truly sincere in your statements, here’s what they will think: “What a nice person! Who’s next?” Don’t let a self-created ghost live in your head.

3. Make it your agenda — You know what’s great about being introverted? We can come with a game plan on how to work an event and not feel the need to tell a single soul. Yeah, it’s a mixer chock full of extroverts AND it’s an opportunity to…

  • Get insight from a group of people about an issue you want to solve or something you are curious about. “I’m always interested how people discover or get really interested in a topic like being a better learner. What got your attention to start exploring this?”
  • Ask each person a question as if you were taking a poll on a topic of interest. Heck, tell them you are taking an informal poll. Extroverts will LOVE you.
  • Be super open and honest! Engage with as many people as you can by sharing “I’m usually pretty uncomfortable in these types of social settings. What do you do to enjoy situations like this?”
  • Make it a game! How many people can an introvert meet in the next 15–30 mins? I don’t know, but you are about to find out! Just because you associate more with introversion doesn’t mean you are not competitive.

4. Find recharge zones — As an introvert you naturally do this and may not even realize it. Examples include: Making a stop to the bathroom for a moment of silence, Stepping outside for a quick breath of fresh air, Looking like you are seriously reading an email or text on your phone. Admit it, all of us introverts use these tactics on occasion. The great thing is these each look like rational actions that take place in any social setting and they only take 1–2 minutes. So you can go find a moment of quiet/aloneness, recharge and jump back into the game.

5. Smile — Yes, your mother reminded you of this often and the school photographer demanded it. Your smile is powerful. Now you may be thinking, “Ugh! If I smile at someone they may want to talk to me!” And that could be true. Yet, the most powerful way an introvert can communicate with others is the non-verbal, don’t-need-a-power-opening-statement, I-can-be-thinking-anything-I-want wonderful smile. It is truly the universal communication sign across all cultures, languages, and ages. A warm, sincere smile speaks volumes.

Here’s the thing to remember about introversion and extroversion: Neither are an excuse to not enjoy the opportunities life gives us. For extroverts, the opportunity feel the power of solitude and enjoy a moment to only his/herself that cannot be fully described (but we know you will try!). For introverts, the opportunity to discover someone really fascinating that may be feeling just like you in the moment can be the beginning of a great relationship.

You have an extrovert inside you. Learn when to leverage him/her so you can be that active introvert with a life well lived.

Keep learning & doing!

Joe

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Joe the Active Introvert

I help introverts learn and do through stories, tips, and guidance to create a fulfilling life of results that matter and honor our life preferences.