How to Ask for Attention as an Introvert

A group of coworkers talking

Even though we introverts don’t crave the limelight, we still want people to acknowledge us and our hard work.

There is a common misconception about introverts that because they often dislike being the center of attention, they don’t like attention at all. But I’ve never met anyone who didn’t want attention in some capacity, at least sometimes. 

That said, introverts tend to appreciate attention differently than extroverts. There are introverted actors, musicians, artists, influencers, and, in my case, writers. Even though we may not naturally crave the limelight, we still want people to acknowledge us, our hard work, and our accomplishments. (Just maybe don’t throw a party.)

Because I avoid drawing attention to myself around friends, many of them have concluded that I don’t want people to pay attention to anything I do. I mean, please don’t watch me cook (because that’s not something I’m good at). However, I would be grateful if you took the time to read this article. I am a writer, after all.

Sometimes, these things get confusing, but you can probably relate to this struggle if you are an introvert like me, who has skills you would like to show off — in your own, quiet way, of course — and you can’t figure out how to ask for attention without drowning in it. Believe it or not, it is possible to get it in introvert-friendly doses. 

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The Wrong Kind of Attention 

Of course, there is the wrong kind of attention. For instance, I hate birthday parties. Correction: I hate my birthday parties. Celebrating a friend on their special day is enjoyable enough, though — so long as I can leave at a reasonable time. (Though large gatherings are still overwhelming.) 

But a party to celebrate me? No, thank you! Nothing is more nerve-wracking than everyone staring at me while a group of loved ones sings “Happy Birthday” in several keys at once. Please, just let it end.

Why does that type of attention bother me? Because I am the focal point for no reason other than I exist. The ever-present, draining sensation introverts feel around crowds gets ramped-up the second everyone looks at me. I don’t know about you, but I don’t thrive in the spotlight. Please turn it off.

This exact scenario may not apply to you because the particular aspect of socializing you find draining may differ from mine. We don’t all express our introversion the same way, after all. Still, there is probably something you can think of that has caused this feeling, that wrong kind of attention that makes you want to run for the nearest exit. Maybe it’s public speaking. Or social anxiety when talking to someone you’ve just met. Or going to the house of someone you don’t know. 

It could be anything, but every introvert has one social situation that is much more draining than any other. For me, it’s being the center of attention. Yet there are exceptions…

The Right Kind of Attention

If you are a parent, your child has probably brought you some creation they are proud of that is, let’s just say, not a masterpiece. Maybe it was a drawing, a clay sculpture, or even a mud pie. There is that moment when a child’s eyes are full of pride as they await their parent’s impending praise. And you praise them because you are a good parent and your child tried very hard. Even when you’re an adult, that’s how it can feel when asking for attention.

Are you an artist? Writer? Musician? Have you accomplished something incredible recently, like getting a promotion? Getting married? Having a child? Do you want someone to look at you with the same pride as a mother fawning over her child’s precious artwork? Or would you prefer not getting a diminutive “good job,” but genuine respect? You did well, and I see that. 

That is the kind of attention that introverts crave. That is not to say extroverts don’t seek validation, too. Everyone does. But introverts can thrive in praise in a way we don’t with pure notice. I don’t want people to look at me, but I do want them to see what I’ve done.

I am a fiction writer, and nothing is more nerve-wracking than having someone read something I’ve written. That said, there is nothing more encouraging than someone reading my stories and telling me they enjoyed them. (Or even that they didn’t, if they have helpful advice to offer.) 

Point being, I just want people to read my work. I want to jump, wave my arms, and shout, “Please look at this thing I worked very hard on and tell me what you think!” It’s a different kind of attention. I wouldn’t ask someone to look at me for the sake of looking. However, I want people to see my hard work. And don’t you?

Do you ever struggle to know what to say?

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How to Ask for Attention the Introvert Way

In my experience, the best way to get people in your circle to acknowledge your efforts is to simply ask. That can be intimidating, but it is usually effective. Would you like to see this picture I drew? Do you want to see a picture of my new baby? Can I tell you about how I got this promotion at work? 

If you, like me, also happen to struggle with self-confidence, this can feel like imposing yourself on people who don’t want to hear it. But most people will give you a moment if you ask. Don’t worry that you are forcing yourself on others; it’s a question, and they are free to refuse. And if they do refuse, try not to take it to heart. There is probably a reason. Just pick yourself up and ask someone else. There will be someone willing to hear all about it and see what you’ve accomplished.

So, who should you ask? In my experience, it depends. For some, the person closest to them is ideal, like a romantic partner or best friend. For others, myself included, the closer I am to someone, the more their opinion can hurt; I’ll take things too personally. So, it can help to seek out someone already interested in what you want to share. 

Have you perfected a recipe? Then definitely ask the neighbor who’s always cooking to try it. And, sometimes, the best person to ask is someone you don’t know. Show off the fancy nail art you learned to the person in line behind you at the store. Gush to your server about that dream job offer.

For personal stuff, sometimes an acquaintance is perfect. Maybe it’s a coworker or a friend of a friend, someone who knows you well enough to be honest, but not so well that they’ll be brutally honest. Simply start with, “Would you like to see something I’ve been working on?” Or, “Something cool happened. Can I tell you about it?” Wording it as a question gives the other party an out while also protecting you from feeling rejected if now isn’t a good time.

Personally, I used to believe it was selfish to ask for attention. I spent years feeling obligated to take a backseat to my extroverted friends because I didn’t want to compete with them, so it took me a long time to realize it isn’t a competition. Extroverts enjoy surrounding themselves with people, so a room’s focus centering on them is a natural result. It isn’t that extroverts aim to occupy everyone’s attention; they are simply enjoying the dynamic their nature instigates. 

In this way, an introvert asking to be acknowledged isn’t “fighting” the extrovert for attention; it’s changing the flow of conversation. That happens in a group dynamic regardless, so there’s no reason not to instigate it yourself with a bit of assertiveness (which is not always easy, I know!). Even introverts have times when they want to stand out, and there is no shame in that. Just make sure you have an extroverted friend handy to take the focus back off of you afterward.

If you enjoyed reading this article, please follow me on your preferred social media platform or visit my website, HopeConstance.com. I would love to talk more about life as an introvert and how it affects us.

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