Feeling the need to fill the silence with things that don’t matter while not caring to talk about the things that do matter
If you’re an introvert, you’re acutely aware of the fact that we live in an extroverted world. As Susan Cain pointed out in her bestselling book, Quiet, Western culture is dominated by the extrovert ideal, the false belief that the “best” person is outgoing, highly sociable, and a natural in the spotlight.
However, introverts make up 30-50 percent of the U.S. population, and if you ask them, a lot of “extroverted” behaviors are pretty annoying. So, that’s exactly what I did; via Facebook, I invited the introverts who follow me to share which ones irritate them the most — here’s what they told me. The good news: If you can relate, you’re not alone!
‘Extroverted’ Behaviors That Annoy Introverts
1. Showing up at your desk unannounced with lots of questions
You’re deep in thought, doing what your job pays you to do, when BAM, your extroverted coworker appears out of nowhere — and she’s got a lot of questions. Sure, this scenario might annoy anyone, introvert or extrovert, but it can be a special level of hell for us “quiet ones.” Why?
For one, introverts tend to focus deeply, so when they’re suddenly forced to shift their attention elsewhere, then return it to their original task, it can feel like trying to swim back to shore in a lake made of peanut butter. And, once interrupted, it can be difficult for introverts to find their way back to their original thoughts — a complex spiderweb built on a library built on a labyrinth — which is a frustrating experience, to say the least. Plus, there are few things that introverts hate more than being put on the spot and pressured to answer RIGHT NOW. According to Dr. Marti Olsen Laney, author of The Introvert Advantage, introverts may rely more on long-term memory than working memory, so they need extra time to think and respond. Extroverts, who prefer working memory and reacting quicker, might not get it.
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2. Loud talking
Sometimes it’s fun to be loud, like when you’re singing along with your favorite playlist (or yelling into the universe’s void), but when loud is the default setting of your workplace, home, or school, it gets obnoxious for introverts fast. As the nickname implies, we “quiet ones” don’t thrive on excess stimulation like extroverts do, so when there’s a group of loud talkers, it can simply be too much.
3. Unexpected phone calls
Like a crying baby or a barking dog, a ringing phone demands your attention right now. Unexpected calls leave introverts no time to mentally prepare to be “on,” something crucial for our deep-thinking brains. Thankfully, texting has become the norm (but we all have that one extroverted friend who still hasn’t figured this out).
4. Invading your personal space
Some people love getting close. It’s more exciting that way! But a lack of personal space, especially in a public setting, can push introverts over the edge. And, as we saw during the pandemic, personal space invaders just weren’t safe, as it was a quick way to spread Covid-19. There’s a good reason that introverts were social distancing before it was cool.
5. Intense eye contact
Although not true of every introvert (a loving gaze can be a turn-on in the right situation), for many of us, it’s just too much. Eye contact is even more intense when it’s paired with a high-energy personality or a high-stakes social situation.
Why? Due to their penchant for observation, many introverts are already picking up on and processing every little detail in their environment, from the subtle change in someone’s tone of voice to their most minute facial expressions. This behavior is especially true of highly sensitive introverts. As a result, intense eye contact can be so overstimulating that they may not fully process what the other person is saying unless they focus elsewhere — but there’s no escaping the zealous gaze of some extroverts!
6. False assumptions about introverts
Despite the progress the “introvert positive” movement has made, to some people, introvert is still a dirty word. It means you have no friends, you’re shy, you’re unsociable, you’re a pepperoni pizza at a vegan party. The truth is that introverts can be excellent leaders, actors, and even comedians. They enjoy spending time with friends and need some level of meaningful socializing to thrive, just like anyone else. What extroverts need to understand is that introverts do much better socializing when they have some control over the situation, like deciding when they want to leave.
7. Feeling the need to fill the silence with things that don’t matter while not caring to talk about the things that do matter
For introverts, it doesn’t get more annoying than a parade of empty small talk.
Some people are open books; they’ll talk about anything and everything. These people are probably not introverts, who are, in general, private about personal matters and can feel incredibly self-conscious when those details are laid bare for all to see. Plus, see #7 — gossip falls under the “things that don’t matter” category. Sure, everyone loves a juicy tidbit from time to time, but when that’s the only conversation topic, introverts will probably get annoyed fast.
9. Monopolizing the conversation
You’ve heard it before: Many introverts are good listeners who avoid interrupting others. Yet this doesn’t mean introverts don’t want to talk at all. Although we “quiet ones” have passions, beliefs, and opinions — often strongly held — we’re not the type to force them on others. For introverts, it’s extremely annoying when someone shares every little thought on their mind but doesn’t give them any conversational real estate in return.
Drama is annoying for anyone, but for introverts, who have limited social energy to begin with, it can be downright exhausting. It’s one reason introverts choose a small circle of friends over a big network — and why they love spending time alone.
11. A “look at me” attitude
Introverts just don’t get it. Why would you purposely draw lots of attention to yourself??
12. When someone won’t do something on their own
Most introverts have no problem doing things on their own, like running errands, exercising, or even going out to eat at a restaurant solo. Lovers of solitude, they just don’t need other people to entertain them. When someone can’t do something on their own — and insists you go with them — this annoys introverts.
13. Not respecting personal conversations
Similar to #8. You tell someone something personal about your life that you think is just between the two of you — and then they bring it up at the wrong time, in front of a whole group of people. Now everyone’s all up in your business, making you the dreaded center of attention.
Do you ever struggle to know what to say?
As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.
14. Assuming that because you have no plans, you’re free to hang out — when in reality, you planned to do nothing
“Nothing” is how introverts recharge their energy.
15. Spontaneous “let’s hang out” invitations
Similar to #3, when someone asks you to go out at the last minute, this can be frustrating, because it doesn’t leave you enough time to mentally prepare. Plus, many introverts draw firm lines around their time, for example, “alone time,” “social time,” and “work time.” A spontaneous gathering can throw off their whole week because they end up using all their energy to socialize and not having much left over to do what they’d planned (like read a book or cook a new recipe). Then they’re not only tired, but also annoyed because they missed out on what they really wanted to do.
16. Constantly asking, “Are you okay?” because you’re not smiling 100% of the time
Seriously, this is just my face.
17. Constant mindless chatter
So many words. So little value.
18. Listening only with the intention of replying…
…instead of trying to understand what you’re saying.
19. The assumption that everyone should be an extrovert
One extrovert’s party might be an introvert’s worst nightmare. But that doesn’t mean introverts are broken and need to be fixed. Introverts enjoy life in their own quiet way — and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below.
You might like:
- Why Do Introverts Love Being Alone? Here’s the Science
- 7 Things That Just Don’t Make Sense to Introverts
- These Are the Ideal Careers for Each Introverted Myers-Briggs Type
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