Here are some tips and tricks I’ve used to help me get in the habit of being introverted in the company of others without losing the ability to be friendly:
1. Learn to smile warmly (and not creepily) without showing your teeth, or just show a glimpse of them. Exaggerated facial expressions like full toothy smiles tend to tire introverts out faster.
2. Smile warmly (and hug if it’s that kind of relationship) when greeting someone, but don’t exaggerate your volume, pitch, or speed of talking.
3. Restrain yourself from fake laughter, but don’t outright ignore jokes you don’t find funny. Instead, offer a kind smile along with a chortle or a couple quick noisy exhales through the nose, as an acknowledgment of the person who made the joke.
4. Tell yourself that it is not your responsibility to fill a long silence and that, in fact, the other person prefers the silence until they break it. I know the second part isn’t always true, but it helps take the burden of entertaining someone off your shoulders. If it’s a touch-and-go conversation with uncomfortable silences for both of you, try to find something to do while you talk.
5. Hang out with a group of 2-3 other people. Their conversation will take a lot of the pressure off of you to have something to say, and you can jump in when you want to.
6. Alcohol can be a good social lubricant, but use it sparingly (and only if you’re of age and only if you don’t have to drive later). You want it to loosen some of your social inhibitions but not turn you into a completely different person.
7. Sometimes doing solitary activities (like reading, or homework) around other people who are doing solitary activities gives you both a chance to get stuff done and show you love them by being in their presence.
8. A really good friend of mine would find an empty couch (after a half hour or so of small talk) to sit in at parties and wait to see if any other introverts emerged from the social maylay to join him. That way he avoided the prolonged small talk that was difficult for him and got to have what he deemed a “real conversation” instead. It also often helped another person break away from the crowd who wouldn’t have had the courage to do so without him doing it first.
9. That reminds me, I feel much more at ease in social situations if I’m sitting. Or if I have something to do with my hands, even if it’s just holding something. At a large social gathering where they don’t know many of the other guests, introverts will often be the ones asking the host if they can help out in any way, to keep themselves busy instead of feeling awkward.
Introverted tips when you’re not in-person:
1. If you hate the phone, try emailing or texting if the situation allows for it. You still might need to follow up with a call if they don’t respond.
2. To maintain long-distance friendships without having to call (if you hate the phone), send random notes in cards, texts, emails, or on social media.
3. Update your Facebook statuses every few days/weeks to include people in your comings and goings. Delete any “friends” you don’t want to know about your comings and goings, and rid yourself of any ensuing guilt. You don’t have to be fb friends with everyone you’ve ever met, and it’s really freeing to filter out people from your friends list that you only met once or twice five years ago. Just don’t unfriend someone because of a difference of opinion or a conflict–there’s really no need, and you’d probably regret it later on.
I’d not advise using all of these tricks all at once, nor in all contexts. Use your discernment to choose which would be helpful at which times. And good luck on your journey to be more naturally you in more situations!