5 (Incorrect) Assumptions People Make About Introverts Because They’re ‘Quiet’

An introvert listening to headphones on a bench

To many people, being “quiet” is an uncomfortable thing. But for introverts, it’s ideal and something to be embraced, not shunned.

If you ask almost anyone I know to describe me, there are probably two things they would say right away — I like baseball and I’m quiet. I’ve known from a young age that I’m a quiet person, but as I’ve gone through many life experiences — such as high school, college, getting a job, and marriage — I’ve learned more and more about what it means to be “quiet,” and an introvert, in a world (mainly) full of people who love to talk.

There are many positive traits that come with being quiet, but unfortunately we live in a world where being quiet causes one to stick out like a sore thumb. I couldn’t tell you how many times people have made remarks to me (or about me to others) about how quiet I am, and much of the time, it’s not meant to be a compliment. Being asked “Why are you so quiet” is incredibly annoying to introverts. (I imagine many readers have experienced the same.)

For Many, Silence Is Uncomfortable… but Not to Introverts 

One thing I’ve learned over time is that, to many people, silence is an uncomfortable thing. Many non-introverted folks have a problem with silence; to them, it’s a vacuum that needs to be filled with something — anything — to keep them from going crazy. Many introverts, however, don’t see it that way. When I’m not talking, there are many reasons why: I’m contemplating, observing, or just enjoying the fact that there’s nothing that is currently demanding my attention in a hectic world. But not everyone knows that — we don’t tell them, and they can’t read our minds.

I think there’s a severe lack of understanding from both sides (introverts and extroverts) on what silence means and how the other side interprets it. I believe that, as introverts, we need to understand why some people are uncomfortable with silence. My wife is an extrovert who can’t stand it when I’m not talking. And while I think everyone needs some verbal interaction, I’ve learned that she needs much more of it than I do.

However, I can’t change who I am. I am an introvert who, by nature, isn’t talkative. I’ve learned that the key is to find that balance where I can meet my wife’s needs without losing my sense of who I am. I’m still working on it — by trying to initiate more conversations with her, for instance. But if I try to be someone I’m not, and “fake it,” that will make me miserable. 

So I feel that we, as introverts, can do a lot to help bridge that gap of understanding. I believe many folks make unfair assumptions when someone they know isn’t being talkative. And it would help us “quiet ones” if others made an effort to understand our non-talkative nature. Here are five assumptions people have made about me all due to my quiet nature, and I bet you’ll be able to relate.

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5 (Incorrect) Assumptions People Make About Me Because I’m ‘Quiet’

1. If you are quiet, that must mean you are boring.

Introverts have just as much of a capacity to be interesting people as extroverts do. The difference is, extroverts are more comfortable talking about their life experiences and interests than introverts are. As introverts, if we don’t tell people about ourselves, how will they know anything about us? Again, it leaves room for others to make assumptions about us.

I’ve done a lot of interesting things in my life. I’ve gone on a lot of fun trips and done other great things. Plus, I also feel like I have a lot of good ideas and opinions. The thing is, I just don’t feel the need to constantly be telling other people about them. 

To this, I will add that many introverts enjoy simply staying home or spending time alone more than extroverts do; to them, these are great activities, and it does not make them any less “interesting.” Introverts also tend to be quite creative — even if we’re the only ones who know it. 

2. Since you are “quiet,” that must mean you’re not that smart.

I’m going to take this a step further from assumption #1. As I said, many people in our society use talking as a way to prove to others that they are interesting. They also use talking as a way to prove they are smart. 

But think about it: Some of the most brilliant people, and leaders, in the world were (or are) introverts, from U.S. presidents to first ladies. Again, they just don’t feel the need to be talking about it all the time or prove to other people how “smart” they are. It just isn’t their main priority.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with talking about some of your ideas or interests with others, or that it makes you a narcissist. Such conversations can be a great way to bond with people. I am simply pointing out it’s wrong to assume someone isn’t smart just because they don’t talk as much as you do. 

The dilemma for introverts is that people may not know you’re smart due to your silence. They interpret your quietness to mean you aren’t even bright enough to string a sentence together, and that’s a shame.

3. Since you are quiet, it must mean you’re being rude to those around you.

On the flip side of assumptions #1 and #2, people may assume that if you’re not talking, you may find them to be boring or you don’t care about them or what they have to say. There have been so many times when people assumed that about me. People may even assume that you don’t like them, or that you don’t like to be around other people in general. Whether it’s someone at a social event or a chatty coworker, they may interpret your quietness as rudeness, which is not the case.

I can’t speak for all introverts, but while I appreciate my alone time a lot, I do like being around other people and participating in activities with them. As is the case with most introverts, I’m just much more of a listener than a talker. Many introverts have great listening skills because they aren’t constantly worried about what the next thing they say is going to be. In fact, when you listen to someone, you’re actually showing that you care about them. Yet, for whatever reason, not everyone sees it that way.

Do you ever struggle to know what to say?

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4. Since you are quiet, that must mean you’re not having a good time.

Over the holidays, I visited a couple of local Christmas lights displays with several family members. Many of the people in the group were talking with each other a lot while we were walking around. I didn’t say much. Instead, I was soaking it all in, observing how beautiful the lights were. 

As an introvert, it’s hard for me to fully take in, and appreciate, my surroundings when I’m constantly worried about what the next thing I say is going to be. It’s hard for a lot of people to understand that, and just means my brain works differently than that an extrovert’s.

Point being, it’s easy to assume that if someone isn’t talking, it must mean they aren’t “engaged” in their surroundings. I would argue that introverts are even more engaged because they have brains that like to absorb their surroundings and find deep meaning in them. 

Once again, though, nobody knows that if you don’t tell them. If you’re out with family and friends doing an activity and not saying much, it might be a good idea to tell them afterwards, “Hey, I had a really good time today.” Or, better yet, write an article about it and share it! After all, many introverts are great writers, because writing comes more naturally to them than speaking does. 

5. Since you are quiet, that must mean something is “wrong.”

“What’s wrong? You’re not saying anything.” How many times have you heard that one? 

I know I have many times. I’ve even had people think I’m depressed because I’m not talking. It’s frustrating to have to explain to somebody that I’m “okay” in spite of the fact that I’m not saying much.

It is possible for someone to not be talking and still be in a good mood, or to at least not have anything wrong with them.

It again comes back to the fact that we introverts often feel we have to “prove” that we are “normal” by explaining it to others through talking. We don’t give those people the benefit of the doubt and assume the worst about them. So it would be great for them to not assume the worst about us, either, all because we’re not saying as much.

‘Silence Is Golden’… Especially for Introverts 

All in all, I think it’s important for both introverts and extroverts to understand the role silence has in our lives. I’ve tried to maintain a positive, optimistic tone throughout this article, but I’ll admit that there are many days when I get frustrated because people don’t understand me as a quiet person. I’m not a big talker, and I’m never going to be. That doesn’t make me a “bad” person, and it doesn’t make you one, either!

To all the extroverts out there: Please try to be understanding if someone isn’t talking much, as opposed to being judgmental. And to all the introverts: Have confidence in yourself, and don’t let others’ negativity bring you down!

My fellow introverts, what (incorrect) assumptions would you add to my list? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

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