He brings up an excellent point, so I wanted to continue spreading that message. Over the years I have slowly gone from "painfully introverted" to "somewhat introverted" to "somewhat extroverted." These days I generally enjoy being around a group of people. What moved me to that point was awakening more to the idea that my involvement could be positive or even welcome. I didn't have to focus on my insecurities. And once I stopped focusing on them and getting tripped up by them, they gradually started to fade away.
I try to remember a few things in a conversation:
- If someone is hurting: Listen. Really listen. Just listen. Don't plan a response, don't question whether they should feel the way that they feel, don't intellectualize to hide from uncomfortable emotions, don't fix, just listen.
- Not zombie-listening, but validating-listening. Acknowledge the point of their story. Maybe they tell a story about being ignored, treated unfairly, or not being taken seriously. Make it right for them: be the one who pays attention, treats them fairly, and takes them seriously.
- We listen better when we have an active mind, so here's an agenda in a conversation: try to understand. Try to empathize. Try to see things through their eyes.
- If we find ourselves listening for points for followup in a conversation, find something good to acknowledge or recognize about the other person: find a way to encourage them.
- Lots of people really do want to tell you how their day was. Or, more to the point, they want someone who will actually listen and care if they can't honestly say "Everything Is Awesome!"
- "Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn."