Do you have an introvert in your life that you want to encourage?
- A friend who is going through a difficult time or grieving the loss of a loved one?
- A colleague who is doing a great job and you want to affirm them in that?
- A family member who is struggling with not getting enough alone time?
- A ministry leader or work supervisor who has a hard time getting people’s attention during meetings?
As an introvert myself, I would love to give you a few ideas as to how you can support these more introverted individuals.
Please realize that even though I’m an introvert and your friend/colleague/family member is also an introvert, it doesn’t mean we’re exactly alike. What might be encouraging to me might be frustrating for him or her. So consider my ideas, but prayerfully discern how you can be an encouragement to them personally.
1. Create Some Time for Them to Be Alone
I know it seems a little counter-intuitive to send someone who is having a hard time to have some time by themselves, but for the introvert, this can be such a gift.
Family commitments or work projects might make it nearly impossible for our introverted friends to have any time alone unless it’s late at night or early in the morning. And since introverts tend to re-charge when they are in a quiet space by themselves, giving them the opportunity to do so really is such an encouragement. It shows you not only recognize their need to be alone, but that you value them as a person and want to make sure they have that chance to relax and get refreshed.
What can this look like?
- Offer to watch their kids for an hour so they can read a book or get outside by themselves.
- Let them borrow your house for the day as a sort of “day away”–because sometimes when we try to do this in our own house, we get caught up in all the things we need to do.
- Answer the phone over the lunch hour so your colleague can get a true break from work and have some time alone and away from the office.
2. Write a Heartfelt Note of Encouragement
Many introverts treasure hand-written notes of affirmation and support. While text messages and emails can mean a lot, too, there’s just something about holding something tangible that someone gave to you.
So grab a piece of paper or stop at the store and get a card and take a few moments to write them a message that will uplift them and let them know you care.
The content of your note will be determined by the kind of encouragement your friend needs, but there are a couple of things that will make it extra-special for them.
- Be specific. A general “You are great” is nice, but using specific examples or more precise words shows that you put thought into your note and that you truly see them as a person and what makes them special and unique. They don’t want a card you could have given to anybody.
- Be clear. Have a point to your message and don’t “mumble” in your writing, talking about one thing and then jumping to another. Your note should flow well and make sense to your friend. Including a short and memorable phrase at the end will help. Something like, “You are not alone” or “You will get through this.”
- Be gentle. If your encouragement is more of the truth-telling sort, remember that many introverts are also quite sensitive, so tell the truth covered with love and grace. Affirm what they are doing well, and spur them on to keep going.
Your note doesn’t necessarily have to be long, but it does have to be genuine.
3. Gift Them a Membership to an Online Community
Online spaces can be a great place for introverts to connect with like-minded people without the pressure of in-person social interactions. Plus, if they like to learn and grow professionally, it often allows them the opportunity to do that, too.
Now, it’s important to know for sure that they want to be a part of this community. Maybe they are already a part of one and their membership dues are coming up. Or maybe they’ve been eyeing one for awhile and simply can’t afford the fees.
Ask them if there’s a group they want membership in and then see how you go about paying it for them. Some online communities have a place for you to do this on their website; others, you may need to give the money to your friend and have them sign themselves up.
By gifting them a membership, you communicate that you believe in what they are doing, and that you support their desire to learn and grow. You don’t want obstacles like a lack of funds to get in the way of that.
4. Give Them a Book
My family jokes that they never know what books to buy me because I have so many. But books are still one of my favorite gifts!
I understand it can be challenging to pick out a book for someone else. We all have different tastes and preferences. However, if you can find a book that would be a good fit for your friend, I bet it would really mean a lot to them. Browse their bookshelves when you’re over at their house, or take note of the books they mention on any social media posts. See what they like or if there’s a book being released soon that they are excited about.
What can make it even more special is for you to write an inscription on the front page, or include a little note with it, that explains why you chose that specific book. It demonstrates the thought and care you put into picking it out.
And if there’s any off-the-wall chance you can get the author to sign it… seriously, do it. Some authors will allow you to order a copy that has been signed, especially if it’s a book that’s just coming out. It’s that extra-special touch that can mean a lot to an introverted friend.
5. Sit and “Be” with Them
This can feel awkward or challenging to someone who is more extraverted, but a lot of introverts like to just “be” with their close friends sometimes without the pressure of having to talk.
What can this look like?
- Sit on the porch with them and enjoy the day outside.
- Take a quiet boat ride or car ride.
- Invite them over to watch a movie or their favorite TV show.
- Read your own books while sitting together in the same room.
- Have a game night that doesn’t require a lot of talking or hoopla.
You certainly don’t have to do this all the time, but if they are especially down and out, giving them the space they need while still being near might be one of the most encouraging gifts you can give them. They’ll talk when they are ready.