Becoming Introvert Friendly

What's your worst fear about social media? Is it that you'll get judged and people will make fun of you?

Turns out that my worst fear is the possibility of offending people. I never knew this about myself until it smacked me in the face and became reality.

See, I posted a Reel on Instagram and within minutes it was generating likes and comments. As the comments starting coming in, my heart began to sink. One said my Reel was "mean spirited." Another said I was "basically bullying."

For background, I had made a video explaining the various personality types of the people who hang out at the school crosswalk. There's me and several other people who, depending on the day, either chat or just hang quietly. There's the mom with an infant and toddler who's likely exhausted and stands at the very edge clearly not wanting to engage with anyone. And there's the crossing guard who is super talkative and never fails to discuss the weather.

Can you guess who the introverts and extroverts are?

Well, Instagram users thought I was throwing the mom under the bus and immediately blew up my comments to tell me so.

Interestingly, no one defended the extroverted crossing guard who I said makes a ton of small talk.

Anyway, in less than an hour, the Reel had over 25,000 views, plus likes, comments, and saves. It was starting to go viral. And then I deleted it. Yep, *poof* it was gone, just like that.

See, I could have let it ride to see how the metrics played out. I even got new followers in that crazy hour of the Reel's life. But I ultimately decided to delete it for two reasons:

  1. It was draining my energy. I was defending myself in the comments, but it was exhausting.
  2. My brand is about empowering introverts. And if the Reel wasn't providing entertainment or information and was making people angry, I didn't want it to live in perpetuity.

Which brings me to the lesson - don't try to change people's opinions. It's just like the arguments over politics on Facebook...both sides of the argument end up unhappy and worn out. I should not have engaged in the comments. There's no positive result.

There's only so much detail you can include in a 60-second Reel. And the point was to show how many personalities exist at one tiny intersection. But I would like to explain why the mom who gives off the vibe of "don't talk to me" stands out to me.

As stated in the book, Personality Isn't Permanent, one of the 5 personality characteristics generally accepted by modern psychologists is how friendly and optimistic you are. This characteristic (like the other 4) exists on a continuum.


I'm guessing the mom is at one end of the continuum because she doesn't make eye contact, nor does she even say "Hi." She just doesn't seem that friendly...even though I'm sure she's a nice person.

The term "introvert" has a lot of negative connotations. And there are misconceptions that introverts are unfriendly, rude, and aloof. That societal belief prevails because some introverts act that way.

Yet because your level of friendliness exists on a continuum, you can move the needle to be more friendly and optimistic by simply making eye contact or smiling.

And though we all have those days where our energy is low and we just can't socialize, life is better when you're positive.

You might be worried that making eye contact or smiling at someone will invite them to open up in a full on conversation. And while that may happen, you can absolutely excuse yourself politely. Confidence in yourself and stating your boundaries makes it possible.

Become a more Friendly Introvert

There is no shortage of news about how mean people are treating each other these days. My challenge to all of us introverts is to lead the way in changing that. When we become the friendliest version of ourselves, we change the perception of us. Imagine if the overwhelming belief about introverts was that we are the friendliest people on Earth. How amazing would that be?

As we work together to spread the positivity, consider these additional ways to increase your optimism:

  • Live in the present - how much time and energy are you spending worrying about what might happen? How many times a day do you wonder "what if..." Reducing those thoughts increases your happiness.
  • Connect - as an introvert, you're quite happy to be alone in your house never feeling the need to go out. However, belonging to a group and regularly connecting with people that share your values improves your outlook. Reach out to a friend and schedule a coffee & catch up or walk & talk.
  • Protect your energy - introversion is your energetic trait which means that socializing drains you. It's crazy how we need connection as humans, yet need space from that too. Build more breaks into your day; in between meetings vs back to back, take a short walk in the middle of the afternoon, and set firm boundaries with how much access people have to you (including your kids!)
  • Try something new - explore a new town, visit a restaurant you've never been to, try walking a different route.
  • Set goals based on who you wish to become - envision who you want to be in 2 years time and then create the habits to become that person. Let WHO not How guide your actions.

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