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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Nearly every idea discussed in the Greene County MU Extension “Becoming an Engaged Neighbor” guide can be intimidating to introverts.

Psychologist Carl Jung described the personality extremes of Introvert and Extrovert back in the 1920s. His basic definition said that introverts prefer minimally stimulating environments, and they need time alone to recharge. Extroverts generally refuel by being with others and have no problem meeting someone new.

“If you are an introvert, the thought of getting to know strangers -- even if they live next door -- is right up there with going to the dentist and filling in tax forms,” said David Burton, county engagement specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

The good news is, Burton says it is possible to start connecting with your neighbors without feeling a guilty burden or social anxiety over introductions.

Consider some of these introvert-friendly neighboring ideas.

Read a good book about neighboring to get you inspired. Let me recommend these books: “The Art of Neighboring,” “Next Door as it is in Heaven,” “The Abundant Community,” “How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird,” or “This is Where You Belong.”

Make yourself available by spending more time in the front yard working, doing a hobby or even eating on a lawnchair or at a table.

Do small acts of kindness for other neighbors or acts of kindness. There a list of suggested ideas at www.thelibrary.org/kindness.

Write one handwritten note a month or a week and mail or deliver it to a neighbor. Try expressing gratitude to a neighbor for something they do.

Ask a neighbor to borrow something.

Attend neighborhood events (if someone hosts them) or attend neighborhood meetings (if any are held).

Sit on your front porch or in your front yard, and smile at anyone you see outside.

Start taking walks through your neighborhood and say hello to anyone you see.

Wait to close the garage door until after you have unloaded your vehicle. If you see a neighbor outside or a car driving past, raise a hand to say hello.

Keep your head up when you check your mail. Acknowledge anyone you see outside.

If you have children, bring playtime or snack-time outside to the front yard. Invite neighbor kids to join if the opportunity arises.

“As you practice engaging in small ways with neighbors, you will become more cognizant of your neighbors being people with stories worth learning about,” said Burton.

Burton says all of these ideas can be summed up with this advice: take walks in your neighborhood, say hello to people you see, pray for your immediate neighbors, and be open to opportunities.

University of Missouri Extension is at the forefront of a national movement that recognizes the importance of neighboring in community development. As community leaders and advocates, we encourage friends to learn the names of all their neighbors, build relationships with their neighbors through common interests and shared experiences, and sustain compassionate and caring practices of neighborly love. 

To learn more about our "Becoming an Engaged Neighbor" program, or for more on the impact of neighboring, go online to https://extension.missouri.edu or contact David Burton by email at burtond@missouri.edu or telephone at (417) 881-8909.
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