On feeling drained by social interactions

As an introvert, social interactions lower my energy levels. Last time at a farewell party, I feel drained surrounded by friends. Before the event began, everyone was responsible for part of it by preparing food to share. I bought a french long bread roll and some alcoholic drinks, like vodka and tonic, Kenmore whiskey and ginger, since I was guessing what other people may want. After the event, the bread roll and alcoholic drinks remain intact, since they were so unpopular that nobody touched them. Not sure if I should feel shameful about the purchase decisions and take it personally. During the event, friends were engaging with small talks, chit chat about their favourite kind of food, about the ridiculous side of work and some random topics. I was being quiet most of the time, not because I wasn’t friendly, and I was paying attention to listen, but I simply don’t know what to say. If people were talking about gaming, I am not a gamer. If people were talking about sports, I don’t watch football, basketball or follow any kind of sports news. If people were talking about music, western music is different from Asian music that I used to listen to, so I can’t resonate. It’s tiring to sit for an hour playing the role of active listening.

To minimise the effect of my fault, I might have an interesting life, so that I have some interesting topics to talk about. If I go out more frequently, I could talk about my experience to do wakeboarding. If I have a lot of friends, I could share those funny stories that I heard. If I read more books and news, I could think of some relevant piece of information to add values to the conversation. Otherwise, there is nothing worth mentioning if I have a boring life, looking at a computer screen all day and night, having the same food every meal and staying at the same place without getting out of my comfort zone. I would have an enriched life if I am opened minded to new experience, trying new things and seeing the world from different perceptive. If I have a lot of different hobbies, rock climbing, kayaking or even coffee drinking, or wine tasting, then I would have many interesting stories to tell, instead of talking about the weather. It is difficult to connect with other people if we can’t find some common interest to share. I enjoy reading books and writing software, but these are unpopular things to talk about during a casual dinner, without any opportunity to talk about these deeper topics.

To work on improving this feeling drained by social interactions, I need to be a good conversationalist, such that these embarrassing situations do not repeat themselves. I was surprised to learn that some people can be popular as well without sharing a lot of personal information. What they did is simply labelling and commenting on others response, asking the speaker questions, and giving out genuine compliments. I have been reading many books about self-improvement and fixing relationships. I know all these theories and tricks but never put them into practice. It sounds very motivating when I was reading the books, but it just feels embarrassing in a real-world situation and I was trying to avoid practising them. I need to master the skill to improve my relationship with others, build connections and rapport, both in my personal life and professional life for my career. I would be a happier person if I am not struggling to deal with people, feel more energy from social interactions, and contributing to my success.

Originally published at https://victorleungtw.com.

By Victor Leung

Experience in software development, consulting services and technical product management. Understanding of business and technology with an MBA in Finance and a Master degree in Computer Science. AWS Certified Solution Architect with experience in building products from scratch and serving as a charismatic leader.

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