Needing quiet isn’t a weakness or an odd quirk. It’s a necessity that lets introverts unleash their rich inner worlds and brilliant thoughts.
The introvert need for quiet runs deep in our veins: I’m pretty sure silence is my caffeine. I just love it. Being alone — and intentionally surrounded by quiet — is amazing. Though, as introverts know, trying to sneak in enough quiet time in a thanklessly noisy world can be tough.
And I’m not trying to sound rude or persnickety when I say I need quiet: It’s how I can hear my thoughts. Needing quiet isn’t a weakness or an odd quirk: it’s a necessity that lets us unleash our rich inner worlds, vivid imaginations, and brilliant thoughts. Quiet is how introverts achieve greatness. In essence, silence should be here to stay. Here are some things we introverts do better when it’s quiet.
6 Things Introverts Do Better When It’s Quiet
1. They make the best listeners and really tune in to what someone is saying.
Introverts make fantastic listeners. We pay attention to people. Like, really pay attention. I’m using my full brain, trying to understand and process what the other person is saying, thinking, feeling, hoping… and in order to tune in to another person, it needs to be quiet. I need to actually hear them! A quiet environment means we can give our entire focus to the person talking to us. For us, listening isn’t a passive activity or a spectator sport: We are masters of active listening, paying attention to body language, asking the right questions, and summarizing what has been said. It actually takes a lot of energy for us to listen so well!
Do you find that your friends seek you out to vent or ask for advice? Do complete strangers find themselves telling you their entire life story? People lucky enough to have an introverted friend — or introvert in their path — know that you’ll put in the energy to understand them. Which means there just can’t be other noises competing for our attention: Really good listening takes more concentration than the extroverted world realizes. When it’s quiet, we are master listeners who make others feel heard and help them process what’s going on around them.
2. They create greatness in all they do, from work-related tasks to personal ones.
As a kid, I would try to save most of my schoolwork to do at home, where I could actually think about it.
“Why don’t you work on it here?” my teachers would ask, oblivious to the sheer amount of noise in the classroom: students talking, snack wrappers crinkling, pens tapping on desks, announcements made over the loudspeaker… ugh! That same noise seemed to make a wall in my brain between me and my thoughts: I just simply couldn’t access my creative space or focus in the same way I could when it’s quiet.
But when you put an introvert in a quiet space, it’s amazing what they can come up with. Why do you think introverts excel in certain jobs more than others? They make incredible writers, storytellers, researchers, data analysts, computer programmers… and the list goes on. Because we can work well independently, and use our thoughts and brainpower to accomplish sheer greatness.
I am an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher. Personally, I can create fantastic lesson plans, grade papers at lightning speed, give students quality feedback, and even write so much better when it’s quiet. My thoughts feel like they have space to spread out into the entire room. The creative worlds that live in our brains might not be immediately visible to an outsider, but inside our heads there is so much going on. While many schools and workplaces may value talkativeness, I think the world could actually get a lot more done if we all quieted down and put introverts in charge for a bit.
3. They get a chance to add to a conversation without getting distracted by the ambient noise.
Have you ever tried to add something to a busy conversation and then realized that no one could hear you? Or tried to say something, but found another person talking right over you? Sigh. It’s an energy-draining task for us to contribute to big-group conversations, and even more so when no one even acknowledges what we’ve said.
For example, I’ll be talking to a friend in a room where there’s loud music playing. It gets harder to hear what they’re saying, and I find myself getting distracted. I’m very aware of the world around me, so it’s hard not to listen to everything around me. The same is true if multiple people are speaking at once: I just can’t give them all my full attention, let alone formulate a coherent thought to add to the conversation around me. Group conversations are a literal nightmare.
But catch me one-on-one, and preferably in a setting where there isn’t tons of background noise, and it’s likely I’ll have a lot to say. (While introverts need to recharge alone, that doesn’t mean we never want to talk!) Also, when we aren’t in a place full of noisy distractions, there’s a much better chance that the person we’re talking to is actually listening to us — which is something that’s also super important for introverts.
As far as the type of conversations introverts enjoy, most introverts prefer deep, meaningful conversations over superficial ones. These conversations require deep focus and processing. Similarly, introverts tend to put a lot of thought into our words. The quality of my thoughts — and, thus, of my ability to participate in conversations — is much better when my attention isn’t being pulled away by thousands of other noises.
4. They have the ability to travel to other worlds while reading.
When I’m buried nose-deep in a book, envisioning the Hobbits of the Shire or trying to solve an Agatha Christie mystery, I am my best self. And for introverts — who often find ourselves not fitting in with the noisy, people-y world around us — finding a book, blog, or magazine where we can relate to others through reading about them is such an enriching experience.
And then someone starts talking. With each sound, my beautiful book world starts to fade. I’ll find myself rereading the same page, paragraph, or even word. The noisier it gets, the harder it is to fully engross myself in a story. Even when I’m alone — but can hear someone’s TV in the background — it gets hard to concentrate. (And the people who think it’s okay to have loud phone calls in the library? Please stop). Also, this noise that pulls us out of our books can stop introverts from recharging and getting the rest we need to be our best selves.
Books are the fuel I use to recharge. I don’t have to leave my house or talk to anyone, but I get to visit foreign countries, learn trivia, experience the world from different points of view, and generally better myself as a person. While being an introvert doesn’t automatically make you a bookworm, it’s still a common trait and has many scientific benefits, including increasing our empathy and emotional intelligence. Having the quiet space to fully immerse yourself in a story is absolutely essential.
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5. They can focus and process situations better, whether they’re cleaning the kitchen or writing a novel.
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like your thoughts just got up and wandered right out of your head? The more noise there is, the quieter my thoughts seem to get.
The more I learn about introversion, the more I value the rich inner world that exists inside my brain. When it’s quiet, I feel like I’m in a different world — one that’s friendly to people like me. I can hear myself think, and really focus on the thoughts that are spinning around in my brain. I can put my energy into writing lesson plans, cleaning my kitchen, folding the laundry, brushing the cat, writing a novel… the list is endless.
Then the world gets noisy again and it’s overwhelming. Have you ever felt like you just needed a moment for everyone to hush so you could process what was going on around you? Or that you needed time to figure out what you were thinking before you could explain it to another person? That’s called internal processing. And while not all introverts are internal processors (yes, we, too, sometimes like to discuss our world in order to understand it better), there are some similarities.
6. They make stronger connections with others.
A common misconception about introverts is that we are cold, standoffish, and hate people. Uh, that could not be stronger from the truth. As a matter of fact, I, like many introverts, really do like people. What I don’t like is being around too many people at one time, or for too long. It’s draining. And typically, the more people around, the noisier it gets. When it’s noisy, it’s hard for me to think and focus, and hard to connect with people.
For me, friendship is all about getting one another. You know that person who understands you, who gets your weird quirks, and wants to hear about your innermost thoughts, desires, insecurities, dreams? That’s friendship. For me, and for many other introverts, it has nothing to do with the quantity of people I spend time with, going out to clubs or bars, or hanging out in any type of noisy setting. The perfect friend date for me involves something quiet, where I can really connect with the other person. (Or can we just sit and read books together?)
Just like introverts are great listeners, we’re amazing friends (even if we need alone time now and then). But to keep your introvert friends happy, make sure to schedule quiet activities where you can really focus on spending time together, like taking a walk or a quiet coffee date.
The world most certainly needs a little bit of peace and quiet. Introverts know this, and we know how incredible we are when everyone else just stops talking and listens to the silence.