“You should talk more.”
This is a phrase uttered by extroverts to introverts more times than there are grains of sand on a beach. It’s said as if the speaker is trying to conjure up feelings of courage yet unknown in his introverted subject.
The intention here, as far as I can tell, is that the the extroverted party sees introversion as a disease, something broken in a person that should be fixed. And by saying something along the lines of, “You should talk more,” they hope to give the introvert the confidence they need to fully take charge of their life.
But this good intention falls almost always on ears tired of being pitied.
Why? Because there’s nothing to fix — and no reason for pity.
Introverts are often mistaken as being shy, antisocial, and just fed up with humanity. While that describes plenty of people I know, that’s not what introversion is.
Introversion is a personality trait as much as a taste in food is. You like Italian over Chinese food. I like socially quiet settings over socially noisy ones.
You see, introversion isn’t a problem to be overcome or a disease that should be cured. It’s simply the most comfortable way of life for some people.
We’re Just Fine on Our Own
Of course, this way of life comes with its downsides, but nothing is perfect. Introverts may have trouble thinking quickly in interviews, making friends, or sticking to a plan when staying home is more appealing.
But we aren’t oblivious to these shortcomings, and we strive to fix them, just like anyone else would. Personal flaws are just that — personal — and they can be dealt with.
For instance, instead of making friends with everyone they talk to, many introverts will focus their energy on strengthening connections with people they already know. Similarly, we do a job interview when we have to, and we can go out and have a good time when we feel like we need it.
There’s no need for hand-holding unless it’s asked for. We’re just fine on our own, and honestly, that’s what we’re more comfortable with.
Introversion Is Not My Big Secret
Often times, I’ll be told I’m an introvert, as if it’s some big secret.
On behalf of all introverts, I want to say, it’s not a big secret. Anyone who knows what the word introversion means can tell you if they are introverted or not.
And saying that I’m introverted in the same way you would tell me I have spinach stuck in my teeth is more insulting than it is helpful. Unlike the spinach stuck in my teeth, my introversion is manageable, and I am constantly aware of it. I know when I need to slow down and relax, and I’m even able to enjoy myself with other people from time to time.
And introverts are not anomalies of nature, or people who are in need of protecting. I’ve never wanted a mentor to teach me how to be an extrovert, and I don’t think many other introverts have, either. Like all people, we just want respect.
Respect Our Need to Be Alone
So how should you treat an introvert? Here I like to consider the golden rule. I like to consider it, then throw it out, because chances are if you’re an extrovert, how you treat yourself will be markedly different than how introverts treat themselves.
Like all people, introverts need time to recharge, so to speak, from the events of the day. While others may recharge by hanging out with friends, introverts recharge through quiet time — it’s an essential part of what an introvert is. Maybe watching something on Netflix or playing a video game. These activities are almost always done alone or with a close loved one, and that should be respected.
If an introvert turns down an invitation to do something after work, it’s not a personal diss. More than likely, it’s because the introvert simply needs to destress after what might have been a hard or busy day.
If you really want to invite an introvert over for some socializing, consider offering something that’s more low-key, like going out to a small diner with close friends or a game night. And keep in mind that many introverts will be perfectly happy to join in on more socially noisy settings once they’re better acquainted with some of the people there.
Introverts Don’t Need Your Pity
The next step in seeing eye to eye with introverts is to avoid downtalking. I hope I’ve made this point abundantly clear already, but I’d like to clarify even further. Introverts don’t want pity. Pity implies there’s something to be ashamed of, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being introverted. A good chunk of the population — 30 to 50 percent — identifies as introverted.
Introverts do not want to be invited to gatherings just because it looks like they don’t get out enough. That’s insincere, and trust me, if you do this, no one will have a good time making small talk.
And while we’re on the subject, be patient with the small talk — or perhaps start out with it. Like most people, introverts have topics that they could talk about for hours, but we don’t start talking about them right off the bat. Introverts prefer to lead into a conversation organically, but paradoxically, don’t usually like to control the flow of conversation, so it may take a while to tap the vein of the subject we love to gab about.
Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is that everyone is different. There’s no hard and fast rule about how to treat an introvert, and what we prefer over what we don’t.
I know introverts who love parties but also prefer their alone time. I know introverts who hate small talk and just want to get to the good stuff.
I personally get tired when I’m alone for too long, and there are points where I’d rather go out to a social event than stay home. For me, it’s about balancing my need for alone time with my need to go out.
The best way to treat an introvert is the best way to treat all people — with the respect that they deserve as a fellow human being.
You might like:
- Quit Asking Introverts, ‘Why Are You So Quiet?’
- You Can’t Stop Being an Introvert Because It’s in Your DNA
- 15 Signs That You’re an Introvert With High-Functioning Anxiety
- 12 Things Introverts Absolutely Need to Be Happy
- Why Are Words So Hard for Introverts? Here’s the Science
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