“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~Rumi
Don’t be fooled by our disdain for small talk and large groups. Introverts want to connect with people. In fact, this is the very reason why superficial conversations and crowds don’t appeal to us. We see them as energy-sucking obstacles to the deeper connections we crave.
We are constantly looking for an escape route from mindless banter; we wish that we could somehow bypass all the pleasantries and get to the good stuff; we want to take off our ego masks and get real. Above all, we desire thoughtful conversations that lead to meaningful relationships.
But creating deeper connections is not easy. It’s actually quite scary. It requires going against the grain and exercising a level of honesty that makes many of us feel uncomfortable.
Feeling uncomfortable is not necessarily a bad thing. Have you ever noticed how uncomfortable falling in love is? For introverts, who prefer feeling neutral over extreme emotional highs or lows, falling in love can be downright agonizing. In a good way.
The same rings true for making more meaningful connections. It doesn’t feel natural at first. Even small efforts, such as asking and answering more thoughtful questions, can feel awkward. This is because we live in a society that values being polite and conforming to social norms over being authentic.
It’s all too easy to relax into autopilot conversations that never go beyond the surface. If we genuinely want to connect with others, we must be willing to steer conversations toward more meaningful territory. But how?
Love your introversion
The first step might seem counterintuitive, but it really works: embrace your introversion. Many of us have experienced shame about our introversion. We fought it, masked it, stomped it down, and told it to get lost. We created internal barriers that distanced us from our true self. When we deny our authentic self, our relationships suffer. They become shallow and unfulfilling.
Fully embracing our introversion fosters deep thought and introspection. These are key ingredients for connecting with others.
Feed the hamster
How can we ask meaningful questions when we are disconnected from our own thoughts and emotions? You can’t produce water from an empty well. Likewise, you can’t facilitate thoughtful conversations if your mind is on autopilot. Do us all a favor and feed your cerebral hamster with all of the rich nutrients it craves. Read, reflect, journal, revel in ideas and anything else that stimulates your mind. Connect with your own thoughts and emotions. Then, when you actually are face to face with another human, you’ll know what you want to talk about.
Ask the right questions
Ask the questions you wish others would ask you. Make sure you answer them too, lest you fall into the introverted tendency to always listen. What you have to say has value. If you get interrupted, don’t be afraid to redirect the conversation so you can finish your thoughts. There are no rules, so feel free to ask questions that are slightly taboo. Here are some examples of questions I’ve asked in order to get beyond the surface:
Have you ever been in love?
What would you do differently if you had the chance?
How did it make you feel when that happened?
What do you think happens after we die?
Is there anything you’re still searching for in life?
I’m in no way suggesting that you should ask these specific questions in order to deepen your relationships. Your questions could be totally different depending on your interests.
Lately, I’ve also focused on taking a more active role in steering conversations. If I feel like an interaction is too superficial, I immediately search for ways that I can direct it towards more engaging topics. Some people will not allow you to do this. I try not to waste my energy on such people.
As an intuitive and observant introvert, you can gently steer conversations in whatever direction you choose. Go deep.
P.S. Feel frustrated about the struggle to balance your need for alone with your need for love and connection? Download my Introvert Connection Guide and learn how to make meaningful connections – the introverted way.