RSS Feed

Related Articles

Related Categories

An Introvert's Guide to Breaking Mental Barriers

18th October 2020 Print

Introverts are slightly misunderstood. Introverts like spending time on their own, but that doesn’t mean that alone time is the only thing they enjoy. Introverts do enjoy socializing with people, but this is usually the people they know and are familiar with. Company and conversations with people close to them are more favored than a night of partying and meeting so many new people.

The challenge with people who are introverts is initiating the conversation. It isn’t that they don't like the presence of people and conversations. It can be said that extroverts are also like that. While they do love socializing and interacting with people, they, too, need some alone time to re-energize. For introverts, trouble usually ensues when you find yourself in a conversation with someone you don’t know very well. What do you do? Here, you're talking beautifully with three people where there’s one person you know well, and the other, you don't. The person you know well leaves the conversation, and you’re left there standing awkwardly, trying to figure out what to say to the person you least know.  

How do you carry a conversation with someone you least know? What topics can you talk about? How can you start networking with someone without knowing what to say?

Most importantly, how will you convince them to join your cause, donate to your charity, give you a job, or invest in your startup when you're having a hard time even striking a conversation with them?

Try F.O.R.D.

If you're shy and you don't know what to say to someone you don't know well, here are some topics you can talk about. Even if you're not shy, but you don’t know where to begin, this helps, too.  

It starts with a F.O.R.D - Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams.

- Talking about your family

Talking about family is a safe conversation topic - everyone has a family, in some form or another. Ask your conversation partner questions like where their family is from, or if they have any siblings. This usually leads to answers that enable you to come up with more questions. "Oh, you have four siblings. Me, too." "How many girls, how many boys?" Or, "Your family is from Michigan? I have a cousin who lives there. I just love the food there." You can also ask them if they are married or single and what their spouse or partner does for a living. Naturally, these questions also lead to whether they have children or none. If you have kids of your own, the topic of conversation here is endless. You can talk about where your kids study, what they are like, how old they are, and so on. 

- Talking about your job

"What do you do for a living?" is a good way to start asking someone about their job. Some may say what they are currently doing; some may say they are in between jobs. Whatever the answer is, you can definitely move the conversation along the lines of asking them how long have they been in their job, what's a day in the job look like, their least favorite aspect of the job, their most favorite part, and how they got to do what they are doing. You’d be surprised how much you can talk about just by asking someone about their career, and you might just find something you both can click on.

- Recreation or hobbies

"What do you do in your free time?" is usually something that comes after asking someone about their jobs and careers. For instance, if your conversation partner isn't open to talking about their jobs because they were recently laid off or something like that, you can move the conversation to what they like doing as a hobby. Ask them about the kind of books they’d like to read, or even better, what series are they on Netflix. Find out if they have been learning anything new lately, whether it's a new language or even a new form of art or self-defense. You might just end up gaining a new friend that shares the same interests as you. You can also talk about travel plans for the year, the places they have been to, or even what they did during the weekend.

- Dressing for success

As an introvert, there's a very high chance that you don't like crowds, and you probably don’t like the constant attention of strangers. But then, that shouldn’t stop you from looking and feeling your best. If you feel like your suit isn’t fitting well, adding some ‘reinforcements’ in the form of compression shirts would help make you feel a lot more comfortable in a suit. Taking these steps to appear clean, proper, and polished will positively affect your interactions with people. The best thing for introverts when it comes to dressing up for an event or activity is to go for style rather than showiness. Not wanting to stand out doesn't mean you should dress poorly. Even if you're not into socializing or being part of small talk, the idea here is to find a style that you're comfortable in, but ensure that it fits the occasion. Finding your style means you can carry it off in your own unique way. Besides, dressing up once in a while will help you impress those worth the effort.

- Ask them about their dreams.

This may seem like a weird conversation topic, but once you ask them straightforward questions about their family and their job, asking them about their dream job would be surprising, but not unconventional. Your conversation partner might find this to be totally out of the blue, and actually be interested in pursuing the conversation with you longer than expected. What’s more, this surprising question might also make them more comfortable talking with you, cutting the awkwardness. Ask them about their dream vacation, their bucket list, or even their dream house.