I‘m an introvert and, although I like the idea of community, it also makes me nervous. Even though I am socially adept, personable and confident (if I do say so myself), I’m not likely to show up at a large community event by myself. On the other hand, if I don’t feel connected in my community its not difficult to consider moving somewhere else. I know I’m not alone in this and I’m often surprised how unaware extroverts are of others who aren’t like them.
What we know through the data is that a sense of community is an extremely high value for our residents and influences their decision to renew. But what a “sense of community’ means is less clear. And, the truth is that much of our community building activities are aimed at extroverts (or, include enough alcohol to increase extroverted tendencies). What we also know is that connectedness is important for emotional, mental and physical health regardless of introversion or extroversion. So, how do we tap into this often-overlooked demographic and increase their genuine sense of community?
The first thing to understand is that introversion (like extroversion) is more complex than once thought. Current theory suggests four types of introversion, social, thinking, anxious and restrained. This means no one strategy will meet the needs of all introverts. Here are some ideas to increase engagement:
- Don’t assume more reserved residents don’t desire engagement—a friendly face and a personal invitation to community events can help break the ice.
- When planning community calendars, seek out the input of introverts on your staff. Ask them what might entice them to attend.
- Offer a variety of options for connecting that include both quieter and higher energy events (louder doesn’t always mean more fun), large and small group events (deeper connections can be easier to form in smaller gatherings), and, if possible, have designated people at events who can help connect introverts to smaller groups of conversation.
In our CARES Program we specialize in personal connection and customizing solutions to the audience. We’d love to discuss how we could help your community diversify its offerings.