Being the only introvert in an extrovert family is never easy, but it’s great training for surviving the extrovert world.
The same strategies that help introverts survive karaoke nights with obnoxious workmates named “that guy in accounts receivable” can also help them survive station-wagon-packed family vacations to Disneyland.
Here are some helpful tips that apply to both the family and business worlds:
Take time to recharge – Sitting at a family dinner while listening to your little sister talk about dance class is never easy. But it’s a great time to work on your “Isn’t that fascinating?” face, which will always come in handy when you’re thinking about more important things like, “When can I leave?”
Set an interaction quota – For example, each day, reward yourself for speaking to one of your siblings and ignoring the others – on a rotating basis, of course. Then buy yourself a treat without worrying about making eye contact with the 7-Eleven cashier.
Find your personal networking style – For a lot of kids it’s throwing food. For others, it’s screaming for help after you’ve been stuffed into your locker.
Find the other family introverts – Your self-absorption may have prevented you from noticing there are additional loners in the family. Take the time to introduce yourself. Then check back with them in 15 years.
Work on your conversation-starters – Introverts like to plan conversations in their head, sometimes for the next 15 years. It never hurts to prepare lines like, “Dad, I got drunk and cashed the car.” Or, “Mom, I charged a tattoo and a piercing to your credit card.”
Find ways to demonstrate your passion and skills – People often think introverts are passive creatures with little to say or do. Show them you’re more than a quiet loner. Start by constructing a tamper-proof lock for your bedroom door.
Build on your existing contacts – If you like to play basketball with your best friend Larry, ask Larry if he has any friends who, 15 years from now, may need legal assistance for a drunk driving charge.
Smile – But not so much your parents think you’ve joined a cult.