Most of us introverts don’t get enough alone time, so it’s really annoying when someone interrupts it.
Introverts, how many of you feel like you have to be “polite” and not speak your mind when something annoys you? How many of you have allowed yourselves to be talked over, bullied into going out, or kept way too late at a big party because you weren’t sure how to express your needs?
I think we introverts often find ourselves in this position — we’re not sure how to tell people when something annoys us, and they end up unknowingly doing it over and over.
Well, let me help correct that by sharing some of the things that drive introverts up a wall. Of course, I don’t speak for every introvert out there, but these are nine of the things that tend to annoy introverts the most
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9 Things That Annoy Introverts the Most
1. Calling without warning
This habit should have died the minute texting was invented. Texts are objectively better for most casual purposes — they don’t interrupt people, they’re easier to send or receive, and they’re asynchronous, meaning both people don’t have to be free at the exact same time.
But for introverts, most importantly, texts don’t involve unplanned social time — unlike the dreaded surprise phone call, which drains our mental battery.
2. When total strangers start talking to you
This is somewhat culture-dependent — some places I’ve lived have very extroverted cultures where it’s normal to chat with strangers, and I got used to it to a degree. But in many places, strangers don’t talk to each other unless it’s useful (e.g. “I’m not waiting in line, you can go ahead.”) More often than not, talking to people randomly is not the norm, and introverts would like to keep it that way.
Personally, when a stranger talks to me, I find myself pulled out of my inner world and suddenly at a loss for what to say, no matter how simple their remark or question. Sometimes I stare blankly for a few seconds and then stammer out something half-incomprehensible. Usually, I think we’d both be happier if the exchange had never happened at all.
And for the extroverts who think it’s rude when strangers ignore each other — it’s actually part of what holds civilization together, especially in cities. This is because it allows us to overcome the reaction other animals have of viewing each and every stranger as a threat until proven otherwise.
3. Last-minute plans that you’re “expected” to attend
Look, I’m not the best at making plans. In fact, making too many plans gives me anxiety, because I worry whether I’ll be able to do everything I committed to. But even I can reach out a day (or at least a few hours) in advance and suggest something.
When others don’t do this, believe me, it stresses introverts out. Remember: Introverts need time to mentally prepare for things, especially social events. We are less likely to agree to a plan if it’s last-minute, and if we do agree to it, we’re very likely to be uncomfortable or “out of it” (due to our not-up-to-par energy levels) for at least part of it.
4. Pressuring you to go out
Here’s my policy: If I invite someone to something, and they say they can’t/don’t want to come, I say, “Okay, no problem.” And that’s that.
That, apparently, is not everyone’s policy.
Here’s the thing. When introverts say they can’t come, it’s usually for a good reason. It might not mean they have another official obligation, but they’re doing a mental check and saying, “I don’t have the energy. If I come out tonight, I won’t be much fun for you, I’ll feel burnt out tomorrow, and I’ll probably resent and/or regret it.”
If you beg, plead, wheedle, or peer-pressure, sure, your introverted friend might come out after all, but only because they felt guilty saying no, not because their heart was in it.
So next time an introvert says no to a plan, take them at their word and respect it.
5. Talking to you when you have headphones on
Wearing earbuds and/or headphones means one of two things — either I’m engrossed in something I’m really enjoying or I put them on purely as a signal to others that I need to block out noise and distraction.
Neither of those experiences is enhanced when someone talks to me, looks irritated that I can’t hear them, gets impatient while I fumble for the pause button, and then expects me to do small talk. For an introvert, this is basically annoying for all the same reasons as the unexpected phone call, except worse because you could literally see that I’m busy.
Yes, there are times when it’s okay to interrupt someone with earbuds, such as talking to a coworker about an important project, or kindly alerting me that the house is burning down around me while I listen to yet another true crime podcast. But outside of those circumstances, please leave us introverts be when you see the headphones on.
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6. When people assume you’re rude, aloof, or unfriendly
Some words I’ve heard people use about introverts are “rude,” “aloof, “arrogant, “stuck-up, “not very friendly,” and the list goes on…
When I was young, I took these assessments at face value, because why would people lie? When I got a little older, I realized that these “quiet outcasts” (like me) were often the most delightful people of all, often more so than the people putting them down.
In fact, only recently have I made it a habit to ask questions like, “Did they say something that was rude and arrogant, or do they just not talk much?” (You might be comforted to know that people often answer by pausing, considering, and realizing that maybe they’ve misjudged someone.)
The thing about these knee-jerk assessments is they turn perfectly friendly, kind, and thoughtful introverts into the “bad guys” — just for being introverted. But introverts aren’t bad guys — introversion is a healthy, normal temperament, and many of those silent “aloof” people are just nervous, anxious, or unsure what to say. In fact, many of them quickly open up and show off all their good traits the second someone gives them a chance to warm up before judging them.
7. Interrupting your alone or quiet time
Nothing is more precious to an introvert than frequent, lengthy periods of quiet alone time. Introverts need this alone time to be at our best, and we relish it. For many of us, we don’t get enough of it.
So when an introvert does finally have some quiet time, nothing is more annoying than having someone else interrupt it. The interruption might be lighthearted, well-intentioned, or even useful (“Hey, I need to book our tickets today if we’re going to get the discount; are you coming on the trip with us?”). But it doesn’t matter. Once I think I’m in my private, daydreaming world and someone else interrupts, I can feel my introverted soul withering inside me.
If you have an introvert in your life, you’ll probably need to interrupt them once in a while, but make it a point to save chit-chat, questions, and interruptions until after their quiet time, whenever possible.
8. Being put in front of a group without warning
I’m an introvert, but I like telling funny stories to groups of friends. I even like going on stage to do comedy. I’ve MC’d events, taught workshops, and done all manner of things that involve being in front of people. That’s all fine with me… if I have time to mentally prepare.
But if I haven’t prepared? Suddenly, even the silliest group icebreaker has me frozen like a deer in headlights, unsure of what to say. Or the story I’m being asked to tell deletes itself from my memory, leaving me speechless. I once blanked on the name of a friend I’d known for 10 years, purely because I was asked to do introductions when I wasn’t expecting it.
For introverts, this stuff isn’t about “actual” preparation. (I don’t need to make an outline of what to say for an icebreaker at a work function, or prep cue cards of my friends’ names.) It’s about mental preparation — feeling ready. All we need is to know what’s coming before we’re put on the spot. When we get that, nine times out of ten, we do fine.
9. When you thought you had a one-on-one plan, but other people come along
A few years back, I had a plan to meet an old friend at a favorite bar of ours. I was excited — we hadn’t seen each other in forever, and we tend to be hilarious when we’re together.
When they showed up, though, they had two other people with them, whom they happily told me they had invited along. I wasn’t going to change the vibe by being rude, and the extra friends were perfectly lovely people, but I found myself annoyed, disappointed, and a little overwhelmed.
It ended up being a pretty unsatisfying evening, full of getting-to-know-you small talk instead of the deeper conversation I’d been expecting.
That’s the thing about this particular peeve: It combines many of the things that annoy and exhaust introverts. Surprise change in plans: check. Bigger group than desired: check. Lack of mental preparation: check. Less deep connection, more shallow chit-chat: check, check, and check-a-roo.
There’s nothing wrong with having a group get-together or inviting more people, but make that clear to your introverted friends ahead of time. Just not while we have our headphones on.
You might like:
- These 19 ‘Extroverted’ Behaviors Annoy Introverts the Most
- Introvert: I’m Not Being Rude, I’m Just Being Quiet
- 3 Introvert Quirks That Seem Rude — But Aren’t Meant to Be
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