Our “extroverted” culture encourages a lot of behaviors that are not introvert-friendly.
There’s a good chance the problem isn’t you. In fact, the problem might be that our extrovert-oriented culture encourages a lot of not-so-introvert-friendly behaviors — things that drive us up a wall (or back to our quiet homes) and make us wish the world had a mute button.
So here are some things we introverts wish other people would stop doing. I can’t speak for all introverts, but I believe that these 11 things are common introvert pet peeves.
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11 Things Introverts Wish You’d Stop Doing
1. Talking to them when they’re reading or doing some other solitary activity
I will never, ever understand why holding an open book is not the universal symbol for “don’t talk to me.” To me, the mere sight of a person reading a book implies a bright, neon Shh! Quiet please! library sign in the air above them.
Instead, open a book in a public place, and you can practically hear the eyes swiveling toward you as every extroverted or bored person for a mile around realizes, Ooh! Someone who doesn’t have anybody to talk to! They must be waiting for me to come wow them with my brilliant repartee!
No. We’re not. We are merely — and I swear this is true, as shocking as it is — trying to read. Please respect that.
(That said, if you ask what book we’re reading because you can’t see the cover, that’s fine. Just please leave the ball in our court as to whether the conversation continues.)
2. Not taking the hint when they no longer want to talk
I don’t want to be rude (or even appear rude). I want to be a nice person, who has a nice exchange with you and then we nicely wrap it up after a moment and go our separate ways.
But if you want the Nice Introvert on my end, you have to give me the Conscientious Extrovert on your end. The one who can read subtle, polite cues and body language. (No shade to my neurodivergent friends, though, especially those on the autism spectrum — this does not apply to you!)
To spell it out: If someone is glancing back at their laptop/book/activity that you interrupted, or toward their vehicle or the exit, or if they say, “Well…” and trail off or say, “It was nice meeting you,” they’re nicely telling you your time is up. Let ‘em go.
Cuz if you don’t, Nice Introvert has to go away, and you’re going to get Uncomfortably Direct Introvert — and yes, I will walk away in the middle of your sentence.
(Most introverts, though, will suffer in silence to be polite. And that, honestly, is an even worse outcome. Don’t make them do that.)
3. Telling them “there won’t be many people” — then inviting everyone you know
I would love to be able to follow the labyrinth trail through an extrovert’s mind that leads from “I’m only inviting a few people” to “Hello, One-Hundredth Person to Arrive, come on in, there are drinks in the kitchen, it’s just past the people playing Who Can Yell Words The Loudest, to the left of the 8,000-Decibel Sound System from Hell. Nope, you didn’t miss the Clown Car Full of People We Don’t Know Who Will Still Somehow Be Here; they should be arriving soon!”
However it happens, please stop.
It’s totally fine if you want a big house party — but just say that. If you tell us that it’ll be small, quiet, and/or not many people will be there, please understand that we are expecting a total of four or six people (or maybe a dozen if the word “party” was involved).
Keep in mind, to introverts, once a gathering is too big for everyone to be involved in the same conversation together, it’s no longer “small” and won’t make us happy.
4. Making introvert jokes
Okay, pop quiz: When is an introvert joke appropriate?
Answer: When an introvert is the one making it. Period. That’s all, folks.
Look, I get it, introverts are “a thing” in pop culture now, and the jokes are usually good-natured. (“Oh, you’re an introvert? You must hate being here!” Ba-dum-dum.)
Introvert jokes are, at best, a mild annoyance. But they’re also tedious, they reinforce inaccurate ideas about introversion, and a lot of the time, they’re overused. (You’re not the first extrovert to come up with that line, I promise.)
5. Talking forever without asking them about themselves
Just about every article about introverts says we’re “great at listening.” Are we? Or are we bored out of our minds and desperately looking for a way out while someone goes on and on and on about problems at their workplace, talking about people we don’t even know?
Look, I’m an introvert, and even I know that conversation is all about give and take. It’s about passing the torch. I tell a story or make a point, and then I give space for you to tell a story or make a point. We talk about my thing for a while and then we talk about your thing. Sometimes, this back-and-forth happens naturally; other times, you can prompt it by asking the other person a question.
But if you don’t pass the ball, the entire conversation becomes unpleasant.
The issue is, many introverts have softer voices or don’t jump in and start talking over someone else — which, to be clear, means we are being good conversation partners. But some extroverts, or clueless people of all stripes, take that to mean we’re riveted, and they just keep on going.
So stop. Ask me about myself. I promise I’ll do the same for you. (Or, at a minimum, I’ll take the opening to excuse myself and run in the opposite direction.)
6. Assuming any pause in conversation is your opening to take over
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. We all know pauses in conversation are natural, right?
Sure, in a large group, if one person pauses, it’s a nice chance for someone else to add something. But introverts often need a few moments to formulate their thoughts before they start talking. Unfortunately, that doesn’t jive with our species’ rapidly shrinking attention span, and people assume they can just jump in over us.
This is especially a problem in one-on-one conversations. For introverts, these are the perfect convos — the ones where both people can go a little deeper. If you ask us a question, or we open our mouths to talk and then we pause, please, give us a beat. Let a few seconds go by. I guarantee you will become one of the few conversations we actually enjoyed that day — and it’ll probably be more interesting for you, too.
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7. Lumping all introverts together, assuming they’re all shy, quiet, or socially awkward
Yeah, I get it. Lots of introverts don’t like public speaking. Lots of introverts hate the spotlight. Lots of introverts dislike parties. And some introverts are shy or feel socially awkward or have social anxiety.
But guess what? Not all introverts check every single one of those boxes — and some don’t check any at all.
Personally, I love being in the spotlight, and lots of introverts are performers, public speakers, or otherwise stand in front of people for a living. (Some are even A-list celebrities — including Taylor Swift!)
Likewise, although I used to be very socially awkward, I spent a lot of years practicing my social skills, and now I feel comfortable talking to strangers at parties or networking events, or making conversation overall. And I might enjoy a party for an hour or two — just not all night.
Really, the only thing all introverts have in common is we get tired quickly from social interactions. That’s it. Whether we’re good or bad at any particular social skill — or whether we enjoy socializing up to a certain point — varies from person to person. So, please, stop lumping us together.
8. Putting them on the spot, whether it’s to talk or asking them to hang out
Say it with me: Introverts need time to mentally prepare.
That means we do not want to be handed the mic, called out in a group of people, asked to perform an impromptu song, or anything else that involves being put on the spot.
Here are some things you can try saying instead:
- “For the bonfire party next week, would you be willing to bring your guitar and do a few songs? It’s okay if not.”
- “Hey, we’re gonna do toasts after dinner, and I’d like to ask you to give one. Could you think of something by then?”
- “So-and-so was supposed to do the presentation today and just messaged that they’re stuck in traffic. I know you aren’t prepared, but you helped put together the deck. If I stall with the clients to buy you 10 minutes to prepare, can you do the presentation?”
Of course, the introvert may decline, but by giving them some time to think about it, and prepare, it will make for a more favorable outcome for everybody.
9. Talking during movies, shows, and other events that don’t encourage talking
Okayyyyyyy, so I don’t know when this became a thing, but it seems like people treat shows and movies as background noise now while they chit-chat instead of, I don’t know, watching the show. Is it because there are subtitles on almost everything? Is it because the endless binge of episodes isn’t very satisfying, so you need something more?
To this, I daresay most introverts are more interested in following the plotline than we are in bantering about your workday.
To be clear, once a show or movie is turned on, you have two options: either zip it and watch, or pause the show when you have something important to say. (But don’t overuse the pausing privileges.)
10. Treating them as your personal therapist
Introverts can be deep and thoughtful. We can also come across as wise, sometimes by accident, because we think first and talk later. Despite what I said before, introverts can be attentive listeners with the right person or in the right situation.
So if you’re close friends with an introvert whose opinions you respect, by all means let them know when you’ve got something heavy on your mind and ask if you can talk to them about it. That’s what friends are for.
But that quiet, soulful, soft-spoken, patient individual you just met literally 30 seconds ago? That is not your therapist. That is a random introvert who is internally panicking at your awkward overshare while desperately trying to save even one ounce of the energy that you’re sucking out of their social battery.
11. Surprising them with plans, from parties to showing up unannounced
Don’t. Just don’t.
You might like:
- 13 Things Introverts Still Wish You Understood About Them
- What Not to Say to an Introvert
- 12 Things Introverts Absolutely Need in Life to Be Happy
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