I got a question last week that I guess mildly surprised me – “How do I ask an introvert out?” The reason I was surprised was that usually it’s we introverts who don’t really know what to say. We are great at reading and at typing you a smart email, but we may not know how to verbalize things unless you give us time to think about it. But someone out there was being thoughtful and realized that it is easy to chase an introvert away, so they asked me what would be the best way to ask an introvert out.
I know a LOT of introverts, and now I connect with even more of them through the web. They are all different in many details of whether they would want to be called or asked in person, of course, but here is one generalization I think we can make: Do not make an introvert the center of attention in a group or especially the object of ridicule if you want him/her to trust you and like you. Sometimes people think it is funny to play a joke on a coworker or another student, and if the recipient is an extrovert, the desired effect of a good laugh all around is usually achieved. We introverts do NOT want people laughing at us. We may tolerate a private joke like that, from a close friend who we know is not ridiculing us, but we do not want a group looking at us with mirth. Not at all. So don’t try to get your introvert’s attention by showing off and bringing him/her into it in front of a group. Introverts want to be approached individually. Now here is where the question is – to call, to ask in person, or what?
Well, how do you usually talk to this introvert? Do you chitchat at lunchtime, or do you usually instant message each other across the office? I would think there’s nothing wrong with asking someone out over whatever medium you’re accustomed to using. Or if you would rather use the phone than something “impersonal” like email, then maybe when you’re messaging each other you could say hey, would this be a good time for me to call you? We really, really like a moment to think. When you see on the news where someone in the U.S. is talking to a reporter in the Middle East, that delay you always see after each question is how I feel when I’m trying to talk to someone when I am a bit nervous. I have to think and process everything before I say anything! Of course, if you ask your introvert out and he/she seems to be at a loss for words yet looks pleased, I think you should wait patiently and will probably get the answer you want to hear!
Introversion is not the same as shyness. Some introverts are shy, certainly. But mainly we are people who prefer to talk to you one-on-one and do not want to be pointed at or talked about. So if you like an introvert and want to ask him/her out, just be sure the group isn’t watching the whole thing, and go for it!
Photo credit: Carlo Nicora