Image: Kristin Meekhof

In a world that seems to prize extroverts and rewards those who share their voice, it can be an intimidating place for introverts to thrive. And the holidays can seem like the Olympic games for the extroverts, while introverts can feel panic just reading the invitation. Here are some tips for those who are find it hard to socially adapt to holiday social events.

Here are 5 tips to help introverts survive the holidays:

Don’t concentrate on metrics. Instead of seeing large numbers, think about reaching a few people. If you go into an event, rather it is a holiday work party or a family dinner, believing you won’t be successful unless you reach the masses is setting yourself up for failure. Keep in mind your goal is not to be the life of the party. Simply, speaking with a few people is enough, period.

Arrive early to the event. Believe it or not, introverts can get overwhelmed just seeing a room full of people without even entering it. If you arrive early, you can speak with one of two people without feeling the pressure of a crowd. And arriving early gives you an excuse to exit without feeling that you didn’t spend time speaking with the host.

Share a story. Introverts often struggle with idle chatter and find it superficial. Instead, think about a simple story you can share that isn’t overly emotional and doesn’t have to necessarily be holiday related. You can share something interesting you did earlier in the day or a movie you watched. Sharing a story doesn’t mean you’re trying to impress anyone. It simply is to speak about something that you think is interesting. The shift from the superficial to something special can ease the nervous feelings introverts tend to experience.

Prepare an exit strategy. When introverts have an exit plan, it can shift the way you experience an event. Instead of looking at it like you’re held captive, you can see it as having an end time, even it is one you created. Planning to take breaks from the group, is also a softer exit and gives you time to gather your thoughts. When you do leave, there’s no need to apologize or second guess yourself.

Share you’re an introvert. If someone jokes with you that you seem quiet or asks if something is wrong, it is okay to simply say with a smile, “I’m actually a bit of an introvert so these kinds of things can be a bit tiring after a while.” Believe it or not this can break the ice, and the person may actually tell you that either they feel the same way or they’re close to someone who identifies with you. Introverts tend to think introversion means illness. Nothing is wrong with you.

When you don’t perceive your introvert tendencies as weakness you are able to accept yourself. Your power isn’t in enduring social situations, but comes from developing deep meaningful connections with a chosen few.


  • Kristin Meekhof

    Author, Resilience & Gratitude Expert, Speaker, Licensed Master's Level Social Worker

    Kristin A. Meekhof is an author, speaker, writer, blogger, resilience/lifestyle coach, avid runner, and a licensed social worker with more than 20 years of clinical experience. A nationally recognized expert on resiliency and gratitude, her best-selling book, A Widow’s Guide to Healing, was inspired by her own personal experience with widowhood, grief, and healing. When Kristin was 33, her husband of four years was diagnosed with advanced adrenal cancer and died eight weeks later. This was not Kristin’s first experience with significant loss. When she was nearly five, her father died after a long battle with cancer. Kristin has delivered speeches throughout the country, including at Harvard University Medical School, the Global Fund for Widows, and The Parliament of World Religions. She has been named a Maria Shriver “Architect of Change” and has written for or been featured in an array of nationwide media, including Psychology Today, the Chicago Tribune, The Shriver Report, USA Today, Redbook Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Organic Spa, Inc., Huffington Post, Yahoo Health with Katie Couric, US News & World Report, and Success Magazine. She is also part of the book Live Happy: Ten Practices for Choosing Joy (Harper Elixir). Kristin graduated from Kalamazoo College with a BA in psychology and received her master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan. A Korean-American adoptee, she was left on the streets of Korea as an infant. She came to the US in 1974 and became a naturalized citizen. She is a life- coach with clients throughout the United States, and has privately advised some of the most influential people in media and politics.