Monday, February 8, 2016

Hospitality for the Rest of Us: Introverts Unite




Hi, my name is Tina and I'm an introvert.

I know that some of you may be surprised by that fact, because you see me talking with people and occasionally taking chances. I'm a little outspoken at times and don't mind organizing gatherings. Here's a little information for you, introvert does not mean shy or even socially awkward. Introverts, according to Susan Cain, author of Quiet, are typically people who prefer quieter, more minimally stimulating environments. Which means given the choice between a raucous night club and an evening at home with a few friends, introverts will tend to choose the latter. Not that they won't go out, but that it will cost them in recovery time beyond the lack of sleep.

Now that we have that out of the way and the majority of the extroverts have bailed, let's get real, fellow introverts. Because of your desire for quieter places with less stimulation, you're perfectly suited for hospitality. Your awareness of what's going on around you and your keen observation skills of people makes you the perfect choice for allowing others to be real. You are the people that get caught up in deep conversations in the middle of the night. You're also the folks that quietly send notes to those that are hurting. You're the ones that are giving others perfect gifts for their birthdays. You're paying attention, it makes you ideal for hospitality.

Granted, it might also mean that you are not going to have the open door party house in your neighborhood. It also means that you're likely to head out early from the office party. But those are minor in comparison to what you have to offer. Preferring quiet spaces means that you will naturally create them in the midst of your life. You are not likely to have that one special quiet spot so many devotionals talk about, you will have a whole houseful of them. And if you're out in the public sector, you'll have them there, too. People will experience them and some will enjoy it enough to want to come back for more.

Introverts, we're the type of people to place wrapped candies on our desk, because you subconsciously know that you have to pause to eat it. You'll have the comfy couches at home because you like resting even if for just a moment. You will institute quiet time with your kids after lunch because you just know you won't make it through the day with all the chaos that is growth. You do these things instinctively. No one will tell you, you'll just create a space for moments of quiet in your life and invite people into them.

What you do once others are there? Take the time to be with them. You don't have to talk, but acknowledging others' presence is a key building block. Try not to complicate things so much that you miss out on partaking in the quiet with them. All great conversations start with a pause. And you know that you love great conversations. Yes small talk is painful, but deep real heart to hearts are life giving for you. You genuinely care about others and you love to discover that the local jerk is actually something much more. You're on the look out for the rest of the story.

That's what makes introverts so great at hospitality. They really want to get beyond the superficial part of life and discover the deep fascinating bits. We want to get pass the what clothes they're wearing and find out what makes them tick. And once you know, you love to use that relationship to make things even richer. It's part of the reason why introverts give such great gifts. They are looking for your heart and want to talk with it.

Yes, you may not be the typical party beast and the parties you throw potentially won't go down in fireside lore, but they have the potential to change things. Not just things, people. Introverts don't just hear people, they question them. People don't always like that. Some folks are completely happy with their reality and don't like others poking holes in it. And that's not the ultimate goal of an introvert, our desire is understanding, not challenging. It sometimes takes us decades to figure out when and how to ponder with others. We have so many internal dialogues about life, we don't realize that isn't typical for others.

At the end of the night, introverts are excellent hosts, especially if you're looking for a place to be yourself. They will gladly welcome you into their home but don't take it personally if after an hour of small talk they get a glazed look in their eye and start to mentally wander. But if you're able to get beyond that and into a conversation of substance, well it will be a great time for both of you.

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