Opening up can be hard for introverts. Given the current circumstances in the world, it may feel even more challenging to know how to let people in.
But there are simple ways to let someone in even if you normally take a long time to open up. And, yes, even during a worldwide pandemic.
Letting someone in might be important to you for a few reasons. Perhaps you feel like you’ve been living a life of loneliness and isolation for too long. Or maybe you just feel like you need a hug. Or an ear. Or a heart to find a home in.
As an introvert myself, I know that it is possible to let people in, even if your normal tendency is to be closed off. Like a lot of introverts, I value meaningful connection, but I can also find socializing draining.
Thankfully, when you open up and let people in, you can cultivate the kind of friendships that actually energize you.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to let someone in, I want you to know that you don’t have to wait. You don’t have to wait until you’re a better, nicer, smarter, more accomplished person. And you don’t have to wait for the world to fully open up again. There are plenty of ways to connect today.
Here are a few introvert-friendly ways to open up and let people in right now.
How to let people in as an introvert
Choose the right people
As an introvert you may not be able to open up to just anyone. You choose your friends carefully and that’s a good thing!
However, sometimes it can be hard to know who to open up to and let into your amazing inner world.
If you’re like me, you may have opened up to the WRONG people in the past. It makes me feel sad to admit that in the past I’ve let in people who didn’t respect the gift of my vulnerability.
Instead, they abandoned me without explanation, or simply didn’t show up for me when I needed them. Of course, the right people will do just the opposite. As Walter Winchell put it:
“A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.”
It can be tough to open up again when you’ve been burned in the past. That’s why it’s important to test the waters first.
You can do this by sharing something that you’re not too sensitive about that still involves emotion. For example, you might say, “I was feeling sad the other day because everything seems so uncertain.
If they pull away or seem uncomfortable with you sharing even the smallest emotion or need, they are probably not safe to open to and be fully vulnerable with.
Let in people you already know
If you really think about it, you probably already have people in your world (whether that be online or in person) who you’ve felt a good connection with.
Start by making an effort to reconnect with one or two of them. Reach out and send a short and sweet message that shows you care. You might say something like:
“I was just thinking of you today, and that time we [insert fond memory]. How have you been?”
Remember, connection leads to more connection. So start where you are.
Share a win or struggle (or both)
For introverts, talking about ourselves, especially about things that feel more personal and emotional, can feel vulnerable.
The secret to opening up and letting someone in is to share wins and struggles. So when you get on the phone with an old friend, or go on a coffee date with a newer friend, go ahead and share something that you’re proud of or excited about.
Remember, you’re not bragging, you’re bonding.
Also know that you can share your struggles even if you don’t feel comfortable revealing too many of the details. Focusing on feelings rather than detailed information is best.
You can say something as simple as, “I’ve been feeling discouraged lately”. You don’t have to go into a long story of why. In fact, it may be better if you don’t.
Share feelings over complaints and you’ll be well on your way to letting someone in and creating lasting connections.
Let them see your imperfections
As an introvert coach who has helped hundreds of clients and students to build confidence and connections, I’ve noticed a few patterns.
One being that many introverts feel the need to only show their good side to people. This may mean feeling like you always have to be “on”, even with close friends.
It can also mean never letting anyone see what you believe to be imperfections, such as laziness and difficult emotions.
You think you can’t let people into your messy home and heart. I talk about this in my book The Year of The Introvert:
As adults, we treat love, in all its forms, like an uninvited guest.
We fear that love will sneak up on us at the wrong time. It will find us naked and exposed, looking like yesterday’s leftovers, and feeling totally unprepared for company.
“Wait just a minute,” we say. “Let me get dressed and put my makeup on, and while I’m at it, I should really get another certificate, become a better conversationalist, and learn to control my emotions.”
As human beings it’s natural for us to get tired, mess up and even feel a little pathetic. The key to opening up and letting people in is being willing to accept our not-so-perfect side.
Gradually, we let the right people see every aspect of who we are. We’re not that person who always needs to be photographed from their good side. We let people see all our sides—we’re three dimensional human beings after all!
Steps to connect meaningfully
I know that connecting and making new friends can be easier said than done for introverts.
There are a few essential steps to make real connections WITHOUT endless small talk and social exhaustion.
I share the 7 steps to connect meaningfully in my Introvert Connection Guide. Grab it for free here.