The Social Introvert: the secret to not feeling drained when socialising

What would it feel like to walk away from more conversations buzzing rather than sapped of energy?

The truth is, whether you identify as an introvert or an extrovert, socialising is tiring for everyone. But feeling drained of energy doesn’t have to be your reality. Great conversations are in your reach when you understand why you get drained and how you can manage it.

So listen up introverts! We’re about to reveal why you feel drained when socialising and four ways you can manage it. Our tips are simple to understand and easy to action so you can have authentic and energising relationships with anyone.

First, let’s get definitions straight: the difference between extroversion & introversion

Have you ever seen an extrovert flitting around a party chatting nonstop without even a yawn? Well researchers believe that their social stamina is a result of them having a more active dopamine reward system. This means that extroverts thrive in social situations because they are energised by the possibility of rewards, for example making a new contact or getting the number of an attractive stranger.

Introverts on the other hand, have a less active dopamine system, which makes them find certain levels of social stimulation tiring. As a result, introverts are more likely to seek internal satisfaction rather than the external rewards found in social settings.

Note: we make this distinction not to claim that all extroverts are shallow and all introverts are deep, but because it’s helpful to understand what gives you energy and how you can create more of it.

Light-bulb moment: introverts need meaningful conversations

The key to you breaking free from tiring social situations is to learn not only how to manage your energy levels, but how to navigate draining conversation into topics that energise you. And we’ve got four tips to help you do that!

You’ll notice that the tips below are not just conversational tips, but mindset tools. This combination is important because the art of conversation is more than mastering language, but turning up in a conversation as your whole self. What does this mean? It means that knowing the best conversation starter will get you so far, but the key to having truly energising conversations is emotional intelligence.

It’s only by taking the time to understand your mindset (the stories you tell yourself and others about you) and develop the emotional language around it that you can begin to have less draining and more stimulating conversations.

1.Give yourself permission to be your authentic self

We’ve all been in that situation where you try and match someone else’s energy levels because you feel you must even though inside you’re crying to be alone. The reality is, the most draining thing you can do is not give yourself permission to just be you.

The key ingredient for introverts to not feel drained in social situations is therefore, authenticity.

If you’re feeling tired, that’s okay! Own your tiredness. And you can own it in two ways: i) state your needs to others and ii) do something about it.

i. Stating your needs to others

Stating your needs is helpful because it manages everyone’s expectations: you don’t get caught up trying to be someone else and other people know what you need from them. So the next time you’re in a social situation but don’t have the energy to contribute, try simply saying: “hey friends, I’m feeling a little tired right now, but I’m really enjoying listening to this conversation so am just going to take a backseat for a few minutes whilst I regain energy.” It’s guaranteed to be a win, win.

ii. Do something about it

If you need more time alone to recharge, your other option is to physically remove yourself from the social situation and recuperate in a bathroom, bedroom or outside. If it helps, think of it like a HIT exercise - 10mins socialising, 3mins resting. The benefit of breaking your socialising down into manageable chunks is that it helps you sustain your energy levels for longer.

Both of these are great tools for managing your energy levels because they give you the time to re-balance, and also pave the way to more meaningful conversations!

Meaningful conversations are often sparked when one person reveals their true self, which in turn gives the other person permission to do the same. You’ll probably find that as you own how you feel, other people will start to show you their true colours too. It’s in these moments of authentic connection that you will feel uplifted and re-energised.

2. Navigate draining chat to more energising conversations

As you’ve just discovered, what’s leaving you drained is not just the components of socialising (talking, listening and processing), but the lack of conversations that stimulate you. The trick therefore is to navigate conversations into topics that are more energising. The question is how...

Luckily, turning a conversation into something more meaningful doesn’t require a profound comment or high energy, but an insightful question that asks about someone’s unique experience of the world.

The easiest examples of this are: “what was that like?”, “what made you want to do X?” or “what is it about X that’s important to you?” By asking about a person’s experience, rather than the details of an event (who, when, where) you elicit fresh and insightful responses that lead to a more nourishing conversation. Too often we are asked the same question, we know the script like the back of hand. When someone asks a new question however, it makes us think. So start littering your conversations with questions like these and tap into meaning!

3. Just listening is powerful

We live in a noisy world, so when I’m in a conversation but feeling tired, I remind myself that listening to someone is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Being quiet and holding moments of silence in a conversation is powerful because it gives you both the time to look inward and retrieve new thoughts and perspectives on the world.

The mantra ‘listening is a gift’ is also useful to tell yourself when any unkind chatter enters your mind as it helps focus you on the external interaction, rather than the unhelpful internal conversation in your head.

Another helpful technique to become present in a conversation is to simply repeat the other person’s words in your head - or if you’re a visual thinker, attach images to what they are saying. This exercise is great for when you can feel yourself switching off!

4. Have conversations in smaller groups

It can feel frustrating when people are happily jumping in on top of each other but you need more space or silence to contribute to the conversation.

If this is the case, then next time you’re in a large group, give yourself permission to turn to the person next to you and start a smaller one.

You shine when you’re in a dynamic you feel comfortable in, so why not make yourself more at ease. Plus the chances are the person next to you will prefer this more intimate conversation too!

One last thing before I go: there is no magic pill, you are the pill

The real secret to not feeling drained when socialising is taking action - you can’t move forward by standing still! Even if you’ve read all of this article (high five if you have!), nothing will change unless you take action.

So my challenge to you today is to choose one tool you learnt here today and start practicing and playing around with it. It may feel odd or inauthentic at first behaving in a way you haven’t before - this is natural, but don’t let it deter you. Instead commit to your commitment to change!

Good luck.

Georgie and Team Trigger

Would you like to learn more conversational tools so you can become the person you dream to be?

Then check out Trigger’s 4-week Transformational Conversations Programme in London starting July 2019. It’s the only course that will give you the tools and confidence to authentically have conversations with anyone, anywhere.