Let’s be honest, It’s hard to get past all the superficial B.S. and make real friends as an adult. If you’re an introvert like me, it’s even more difficult. You do all the things you’re supposed to do to make friends. You go to Meetups and networking events. You smile, you put yourself out there, you make small talk. And, yet…
You still go home feeling unsatisfied. It’s like when you go to a fancy restaurant and your meal is more presentation than substance. You want to get to the “meat” of a friendship faster. But you end up on a carousel of endless superficial interactions.
Friends who drain the hell out of you
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how my friendships have changed over the years. I’ve heard from several introverted students and readers who’ve gone through similar friendship cycles.
As an introverted child, I always had one best friend with whom I did everything. In high school and my early twenties, I still had a best friend, but I also developed a painful habit of forcing myself to be friends with abrasive personalities who drained me like crazy.
Fast forward to today, and things look quite different. Last week, I had a holiday party with dear friends new and old. I was in awe of how everyone there was so openhearted, kind, and accepting. I genuinely enjoy being with my friends and feel energized by their presence (until I don’t—I’m still an introvert, after all!).
So, how did I get out of the painful cycle of superficial friendships with people who drained the hell out of me? What is the secret to recapturing the comfortable, open-hearted friendships I had as a child?
The first step to closer friendships
The first step is to know how to build rapport quickly with the RIGHT people. Because, as I mentioned earlier, the wrong people will only leave you feeling more drained and empty.
Of course, there are different levels of rapport. There is the kind you build over years of friendship. And then there is the kind of rapport you can build in an instant by developing a sense of connection with someone you just met. Today, we’re talking about the latter.
Contrary to what you might have heard, the secret to building rapport has nothing to do with being witty, charming, or outgoing. Although those qualities may pique interest, they don’t create closeness and connection. Whew, that’s great news, for us introverts who tend to be more reserved and quiet in social situations.
How to draw people in without saying much
Are you ever at a complete loss for words in conversation? You don’t know what to talk about to keep the conversation momentum going. Luckily, as an introvert, you can say more with less and really draw people in simply by being relatable in conversation.
When you share stories, interests, and emotions that are relatable, it means that the other person can literally see themselves in you. That’s what creates an instant sense of familiarity and closeness, because who is more familiar to us than ourselves?
It’s also why you don’t have to have the funniest or most impressive stories to leave an impression on people. You just have to share something that they can identify with.
Everyday annoyances are relatable. Fears are relatable. Emotions are relatable. Even very specific personality “quirks” are relatable because we all feel like little weirdos on the inside. We like when we can see that others are just as strange as us.
You can even share something silly, like how you keep losing socks, but can’t bring yourself to throw out the remaining single socks.
Or you could share how you’ve been feeling kind of down since the cold weather hit.
Or tell a story about your office job to someone who also works in an office.
Making friends when you feel different and misunderstood
A lot of introverts feel so different and misunderstood that they worry they’ll never find friends who accept them as they are.
They get stuck in a cycle of unsatisfying friendships that leave them drained and discouraged. If you want to end the painful cycle of loneliness and make real friends in your own introverted way, get my free Introvert Connection Guide.