Why Introverts Hate Group Conversations

introvert group conversations

Group conversations are, and always have been, a pain in the ass for me. They make me feel awkward, inhibited, and totally out of my element.

As a fellow introvert, maybe you can relate? You know what it’s like to wonder what to say and when to say it. You wait for a pause so you can share your thoughts, but it never comes. So, you stay quiet. Then comes the worst part …

“Why are you so quiet?” they ask, as if it weren’t the most annoying question in the history of annoying questions. You already felt weird for not knowing what to say. Now, you’re also embarrassed that others have noticed.

If you’ve ever experienced the above scenario, you are all too familiar with the PAIN of group conversations for introverts. You’ll also probably relate to my disdain for work lunchrooms, and small talk.

So, how can little ol’ introverted me become an ace at group conversations? How can I be that person who always knows what to say, and when to say it. The one who tells long hilarious stories, and commands the conversation like a boss.

To be honest, I probably can’t — at least not on a consistent basis. Now, before you get all “you can do anything you put your mind to” on me, hear me out.

Why it’s so hard

Group conversations work against, rather than with, an introvert’s strengths. They overwhelm us, and don’t give us enough time to think about what we want to say. Asking an introvert to command a group conversation (in a social setting, not a meeting) is like putting Angelina Jolie in a rom-com. We can do it, but it just won’t feel right.

HOWEVER, we can get better at talking in groups. We can be engaged, and tell a few cool stories. We can also take a quality over quantity approach to what we share. With this in mind, here are three tips for conquering group conversations in your own introverted way.

3 Ways introverts can improve at group conversations

Use facial expressions to show that you are engaged. Raising your eyebrows, smiling, and making eye contact when appropriate can make all the difference!

React to what others share. Show that you are listening by laughing at another person’s joke, or nodding your head in agreement. You can also make short ’n’ sweet comments like, “great story”, or “that’s hilarious”. This shows that you’re engaged even though you’re not saying very much.

Develop authentic introvert charisma that shines through silence. Introverts can be quietly charismatic, and deliciously intriguing. It all begins with developing confidence and connection skills in a way that feels natural to you. I show you how with my free Introvert Charisma Blueprint (access it here).

Thoughts?

What do you think? Am I the only one who feels this way about group conversations? Or do you understand my pain? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share away in the comments below! 😉

Lots of love,

Michaela-Signature

19 Comments

  1. Good tips, have developed these on my own but great to hear I’m doing the right things! I dislike group chats because I can only focus on one conversation at a time, so group chats quickly wear me out.

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  2. I’m not too good in groups.. talking somewhere quiet and one on one I think I could talk to anyone.despite my shyness and anxiety,but groups…nope,not gonna happen!:)I’ll just be quiet and awkward and freeze and get in my own head.The longer I’m quiet the harder it is to join in and i’ll just close up.I wonder if this is an introvert thing or just me,but is it the competitive nature that holds us back in groups?I struggle in night clubs and busy bars but wouldn’t feel anywhere near as anxious if it was less busy and loud…I sometimes think its the idea of how competitive a situation is that holds me back from joining in sometimes?For example,lots of men trying to get the attention of a women on a Saturday night… I tend to shy away from competing for someone’s attention.Is it the idea of having to compete that we don’t like?Just thinking out loud!Thanks for sharing this today Michaela 🙂

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  3. Great article as always! You are most certainly not the only one who feels this way Michaela. 🙂 I dare saying that I can relate with everything written here. 🙂 Somehow in the past, I was able to manage (to a degree) in group conversations due to the nature of some of my past jobs, but as time passed by that ability decreased. But even back then, I felt, well, as if that was not me, that it’s simply wasn’t t my real nature. So I’m happy that one on one conversations are the primary ones for me. 🙂

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  4. I can really relate to this. I took a strategic approach to it, I forced myself to hangout with extroverted females and took on the John F. Kennedy way of dealing with extroverts. He’d let people talk then ask others how they felt about what was being said and saved his commentary for last and give an insightful response and point out how many people all were saying the same thing just in different ways, this gave him more clout and more control over conversations where he didn’t have to say much of anything, he was viewed as more charismatic and intelligent due to his reserved nature and his opinion by default was considered better then everyone else’s just by being quiet. It certainly worked for me, just being able to see patterns and comment in an assertive way made me looked up to and be respected for my calm demeanor. I’ve managed to keep friendships long term too, just by using these tips Michaela has provided here and it makes it easier to stand out in the right way and be noticed for my good qualities. Being the strong silent type has it’s advantages 🙂

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    • James, what you wrote is amazing. When I try to participate in a conversation with my coworkers, I’m cut off, talked over and largely ignored. It hurts my feelings and I shut down so I don’t really hear anything else that’s being said because now I’m in my own head. It reads wrong to the group. I’m going to try the JFK approach, it sounds like exactly the right balance of listening and participating that can work for me. I hope it will help me avoid the awkwardness I feel when domineering types are unable to hear anything but the sound of their own voices! Sorry if that sounds cruel, but in my case it’s quite true.

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  5. Well now, I really really love you ..

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  6. Getting together in group conversations is something I very much hate and have no tolerance for. I find that much of what the extroverts are saying is wrong or quite embarassing actually. It would be to me anyway. Not sure why they say half of what they do. But I find that most people don’t think before they say something and it just comes out, regardless. I, on the other hand, think WAY too much before I speak, but by then, the meeting is over. Group conversations are for the misinformed, self-absorbed, attention seeking, and reactionary type individuals to partake in, not me.

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  7. I can relate to this, very strongly. Group discussion is the bane of the workplace and studies reported elsewhere suggest that the primary idea – to achieve a consensus to help solve problems and improve the way we work – is fallacious and the method ineffective.

    The problem is, too often participation in group discussion is seen as a positive behavioural indicator. Competency frameworks tend to emphasise this, and as performance against competencies affects the result of end-of-year reviews, displaying behaviours which are viewed as being negative inevitably harms the overall perception of your performance. In this way, organisations are genuinely and actively discriminating against introverted individuals, and it’s a problem which I feel needs to be addressed.

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  8. To be honest, if the number of people in the conversation exceeds 2 or 3 I’ll normally walk away

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    • Thats actually pretty funny. I think ill do that.

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  9. For the longest of time I felt like I was the only one who felt like this. Id often be in a situation where groups of people would be talking back and fourth. I wondered why it was that I couldnt concentrate for too long. Id get distracted or just zone out as I would become tired from having to try and keep up with the flow.

    I do enjoy having conversations with people but now know thanks to your blog that it is perfectly fine to take it in small doses and seek solitude when needed in order to energise myself again, so thank you Michaela for your wonderful advise.

    Im know embracing my introvert traits whilst learning and loving the journey of life!!

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  10. I must be the worst case, I cant even manage talking to people one on one. I feel awkward and I try and brush over my awkwardness and i cant wait for the conversations to end. Sometimes I dont get the persons jokes then I feel even more weird because they just wait for my reaction. . so i just smile and nod and say “wow really?’ I feel weird staring into this persons eyes while trying to stay focused on what their trying to say and my anxiety is building so Im having an inside battle with myself.. so hard. and I have to do this everyday with people.

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  11. Just the way I feel, all the time, great piece Michaela

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    • I can totally relate on this. it happens everytime, even in our group chat . Though i have a lot of things to say, i can’t and just remain quiet.
      Thank you so much. You’re helping me a lot ma’am. (I don’t know how am i gonna address you, i’m just 21 and it feels awkward to call you ‘michaela.

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  12. Being a little older than a lot of you, ok maybe a lot older (almost 60), I have become comfortable in my skin and view these gatherings as more of a game and an experiment. I watch the flow of the conversation. I have noticed that people don’t want the deep dive on any topic; they want sound bites so they can take their conversational turn. Or hog the conversation. So I challenged myself to speak what I was thinking in the moment to see how it was received, just as a way of flexing my conversational skills. Interesting observation…it can turn the conversation away from the banal and toward something better. For example, people spend so much time talking about inane tv shows. On and on. When they ask if I have seen XYZ show, I smile politely and say, “I don’t watch tv.” You should hear the responses! It changes the convo. “Really?! So, what do you do?” I reply that I read, write, play piano. Then the conversation moves to those topics. “What do you read?” “Non-fiction.” “What topics?” “Psychology. It’s in my background.” “How long have you played piano?” etc. Sound bites all the way around, but sound bites of a bit more substance. And springboards for them to say, “me too” or “my non-fiction choice is…” “I’m a musician too”. My advice? Use these opportunities in groups to challenge yourself to “come out”, even for a little bit, and test the waters so you can go deeper. It can change the topic in ways that are very interesting and you get to know your group better. I never have a loss of people wanting to speak to me. It also gives you confidence in groups, because that is an important life skill we all must learn eventually in order to be successful. Oh, and make sure you have built quiet time in afterwards 🙂 Carol

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  13. I relate with your article 100%. i hate group discussions .It feels like you have been talking about me all along.
    But am slowly embracing my introversion nature…and things are becoming easier since i now undersstand myself better,.
    Thanks Michaela

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  14. If I’m with a small group of close friends it’s not issue. But I feel that way 100% with new people or people I don’t know well. I always feel two steps behind what is being said in the conversation. When I finally think of something to say, the conversation has already moved on to another topic. So I tend to stay silent. Sometimes I think of something I could have said, but only hours later. It’s the main reason why I try to avoid most parties and group activities. I honestly feel more lonely in a room full of people than when I’m alone.

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  15. I can totally relate, but I’m disappointed to see the main point of the article is not acceptance of who we are and what need as introverts, but the suggestion that we need to change..

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  16. George Carlin was the best on this. He once said that ‘I love individuals one by one. If you look hard enough you can almost see the universe in their eyes – their hopes, their dreams, everything about them! But when individuals begin to clot, when they begin to clump together into groups – they change. They sacrifice the beauty of the individual for the sake of the group. Groups are toxic and the larger the group – the more toxic it becomes’.

    Personally, I avoid any group situations whatsoever. If I can see one forming, I’ll be running as fast as possible in the opposite direction. Even as a young child, I recoiled from the thought of any ‘group’ activity’ because I quickly realized that as soon as any type of group forms – problems are never far away.

    Twenty years later – I still feel exactly the same way and time has verified by original suspicions of ‘groups’ over and over again. I was right to dread them when I was younger – as if I had been programmed with this knowledge in advance.

    As George Carlin pointed out – when individuals clot into groups – they change. The beauty of the individual gets compromised in an ocean of noise because everyone is competing for position and attention within the group. On the other hand, dealing with individuals one by one is far more preferable in every sense – because there are only two people exchanging their thoughts and ideas.

    I have heard it said that introverts find group situations exhausting and draining. For me, this is not the case – I just find the thought of ‘groups’ in any situation – EXTREMELY off-putting and with good reason! You name it – ‘Groupwork’, ‘Teamwork’, ‘working together’ or anything associated with more than one-to-one person interaction – you will never see me within a hundred miles. I will be long gone, believe me!

    It has been my experience that when individuals form groups – they stop being sincere and true to themselves. When you do get them alone – the aura around them changes and the beauty of their individuality starts shining through. As soon as the group re-establishes itself – that aura disappears around them and you’re back to square one where the individuals gets lost among the noise and posturing of the group. IT’S ALWAYS LIKE THIS, ALWAYS!

    In summary, avoid groups at all costs. Don’t engage, run away as fast as possible. Do what I do, Imagine you’re running from an airborne disease that chasing you on the go. See ‘groups’ as a ‘disease’ – something that’s fundamentally detrimental to you’re health and well being. Stick with individuals and take them only one by one – where an honest, rational and intelligent conversation can come to the forefront.

    Reply

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