These questions might annoy anyone, but for introverts who hate small talk, they can be downright uncomfortable.
Living as introverts, we’re put into plenty of situations that make us uncomfortable. Since we prefer environments that aren’t too stimulating, literally any place that contains more than two people can be overwhelming. It’s why we often prefer to stay home. It’s quiet, and we can hang out in true introverted style, doing what we like: being alone.
But let’s say you have an introvert in your life who you would like to get to know. What should you do? What should you say?
Well, there are plenty of things you shouldn’t say. Today, I’m going to talk about the worst life questions to ask an introvert you don’t know well. Unfortunately, society has normalized these questions, but that doesn’t make them any less uncomfortable. These inquiries might annoy anyone, but for introverts who hate small talk, they can be downright awkward.
The Worst Questions to Ask an Introvert
1. “Why are you always *insert weird personal quirk*?”
For me, social anxiety has always been an issue. It shows in two ways — I pull out my hair when I’m stressed, and I slouch (really badly). Trichotillomania is a hair-pulling anxiety disorder, and slouching stems from wanting to hide in social situations.
I used to take ballet classes, and a couple of my classmates thought it would be fun to always tease me about/correct my posture. As a pre-teen girl wearing a leotard and tights, I was already insecure enough about my body (thus the slouching). To say the least, it wasn’t fun.
As for the trichotillomania, I remember having a friend’s mom ask me why I pull out my hair. She then compared me to gorillas picking bugs off each other. I don’t know why she thought that would be an okay thing to say, but then again, many loved ones have tried to humiliate me out of my disorder.
We all have weird quirks. Some of them we can’t stop (or are in the process of trying to). So be cautious of what you say. How would you like it if someone pointed out an embarrassing quirk that you have?
It’s better to encourage someone than it is to put them down for something you think is weird.
2. “Are you dating anyone?”
Ah, the dreaded relationship question. Quite often, introverts are private. We don’t like to gush about our significant other and tell you all the little details. If we don’t trust you, then we don’t want to tell you about personal things like our love life. And anyone we do trust would already know if we’re in a relationship.
Sorry, not sorry.
Don’t butt in on something that’s not your business. Respect our personal space bubbles — even if they’re bigger than yours.
3. “What are you doing with your life now?”
Possibly the worst question for just-graduated introverts is the “where are you working/what are you doing?” question. Some of us don’t have it figured out yet, and having to tell someone that isn’t always fun. Why, you ask? Because we don’t want your opinion on the fact that we didn’t go to college or that we’re pursuing an art degree or that “there aren’t any jobs in that field.”
You can do whatever you want with your life — it’s yours. But you don’t have the right to tell us how we should live ours.
4. “When are you getting married/having kids?”
A ridiculously large amount of people will ask dating couples if/when they’re getting married. And the same is true for those who’re married without kids. Everyone thinks that you should have children and that you should have them right now.
I’ve experienced both of these questions, and honestly they left me infuriated. Because:
- When two people decide to get married is their decision — not their family’s, friend’s, neighbor’s, or coworker’s. Theirs.
- When two people decide to have kids should not be influenced by others. Taking care of a child is a huge responsibility, and while you may think you know a person, it’s not your responsibility (nor do you have the right) to determine when they’re ready for such a huge weight on their shoulders.
- Meddlers don’t help things. They have their own opinions, values, and goals in mind. Not their subject’s.
So yes, it’s especially terrible for people to ask these questions to introverts. But to be perfectly blunt, these questions shouldn’t be asked by anyone to anyone. If you feel like asking someone this question, bite your tongue. Or you may get slapped.
4. “Tell me about your creative projects.”
As the last three questions were in the “none of your business” department, so is this one. There are plenty of creative extroverts, and I’m sure they’d love to indulge you with all the details of their latest project.
But it’s not the same for introverts. In my teens, I remember password-protecting my stories so that no one would be able to read them. Not because I was ashamed of my poor writing (I had yet to discover how atrocious it was), but because I wasn’t ready to share my writing. With anyone. It was just too personal.
For some, it’s a trust issue. A work-in-progress is just that, meaning it’s not ready for the public eye. An introvert might let a few people in, but an acquaintance? Absolutely not.
I still struggle with this. I’m a freelance writer and blogger, and I still hate telling people about it in person. Maybe because I’m still so new to the game, maybe because it’s nobody’s business, or maybe because the wrong people are asking.
5. “Do you want to come to this party where you won’t know a single person?”
Introverts like a low-stimulus environment, so parties in general aren’t really our thing. And when someone asks us to go to a party where we’ll be the odd one out, it gets even worse.
We hate small talk, but we also don’t want to open up to strangers in a group setting. It’s why many of us hate wedding receptions. We get stuck at a table of strangers (who are probably half-drunk) and are forced to have the typical “this is what I do, and this is why I’m better than others” talk. Here’s another harsh truth: we probably don’t want to talk to you.
We prefer to set up a one-on-one session with who we choose. We’re picky about who we hang out with — not because we think we’re better than you — but because we only have so much social energy to give. Loud, extroverted people can be great, but we can only handle so much.
Introverts aren’t boring. We have a different definition of fun. Think that through: what you like doing we may not even remotely enjoy. So please remember that before you ask us why we aren’t any fun.