I’ve said before that conversation is like a sport for extroverts — a fast paced one at that. For introverts, it’s a different story. Trying to have a ‘normal’ conversation can feel beyond awkward for introverts.
It’s not because we are socially inept or hate people. We might genuinely want to connect, but some aspects of conversation just don’t quite click for us.
We could blame our awkward conversation moments on the fact that our brains work differently, and we need more time to think before we speak. Or we could chalk it up to our hatred of small talk. And don’t even get me started on group conversations.
But to really understand why conversations can be so awkward for introverts, I think we’ll have to get into the specifics. Here are 10 awkward conversations moments that every introvert will understand:
1. When you daydream and miss the punchline.
As embarrassing as it is to admit, I have been guilty of this one too many times to count. The worst part is that you can’t ask people to repeat themselves because they’ll know you weren’t listening. You end up nodding and smiling, hoping they don’t pickup on the fact that you were in LaLa land for the last thirty seconds and you have no idea what they said.
2. When you get interrupted repeatedly.
This one is probably more annoying than awkward, but it definitely leaves introverts feeling uncomfortable. You wonder whether you should try to finish what you wanted to say, even though the conversation has moved onto new topics.
You might try to play it off cool, like you didn’t really want to keep talking, when really you put so much thought into the few things you do share that you feel supremely hurt and insulted when someone cuts you off.
3. When you think of something awesome to say 10 minutes too late.
Introverts are known for speaking slowly in conversation. Unfortunately, it can take so long for the perfect idea or joke to come to mind that we miss our chance. Group conversations compound this problem, which brings me to my next point …
4. When you don’t know when to chime in during group conversations.
The thing that is super awkward about group conversations is that it’s hard to know when to talk. Extroverts seem to have a secret code for knowing when to speak up. Or they just don’t care about interrupting each other.
Meanwhile, introverts keep patiently waiting for our turn to talk. It’s also pretty intimidating to have ten sets of eyes staring at you as you try to come up with something interesting to say.
5. When you speak so slowly even you lose interest in what you’re saying.
Sometimes, introverts trail off in conversation. This could be because you feel like the other person isn’t really interested in what you have to say. Or you realize that your thoughts aren’t coming out quite as you had hoped, so you just give up mid-sentence.
6. When you know you’re a third wheel, but you don’t know how to leave the conversation.
Have you ever been stuck in a conversation with two people who were totally ignoring you? You know they just want to talk to each other, but how do you eject yourself from the conversation without feeling like a total nob? Do you just slink off without saying anything? Or do you interject and announce your departure, knowing they don’t care anyway?
7. When you don’t know what to do with your hands … or the rest of your body.
It’s not just the speaking aspect of conversations that can feel awkward for introverts. The more uncomfortable you feel, the more you are aware of your limbs, facial expressions, and posture. Since you are an introvert and overthinking is kind of your specialty, you start to overanalyze your every movement.
8. When you share too much or not enough.
This is why small talk is such a pain in the butt for introverts. It really blurs the lines between what is ‘appropriate’ to share and what is TMI. If you don’t share enough, others might poke at you for more information. But if you start talking about things that are too deep or personal, they might get uncomfortable.
9. When someone points out your quietness and you don’t know how to respond.
Seriously, I never know how to respond when someone says, “you’re so quiet!”. Ummm … yeah, I know, but you pointing it out doesn’t exactly make me want to share my life story. Instead, I want to shut down and pull away.
10. When you don’t know how to end the conversation.
If there’s one thing I can give my fellow introverts props for, it is our tendency to be overly considerate in conversation. You don’t want to be rude and interrupt someone to end the conversation. You also don’t know exactly what to say to make a polite exit. “Nice to meet you, umm … I’m going to go to the toilet now. Bye!”
Speaking of which …
It was nice errr … cyber meeting you, but I gotta go binge on Netflix shows now. Bye.
P.S. If you want tips on how to make conversations less awkward, and get advice on how to truly connect, signup for my mailing list. You’ll also get a free 50-page Introvert Connection Guide.
Regarding #9: Sometimes I say, “I’m really enjoying listening right now,” and that seems to smooth things over.
After all, a person who truly listens seems like a rare gem these days, and I find many people appreciate a good listener.
Great suggestion, Bria! 🙂
This was so awesome! I kept laughing and saying out loud to myself ….. I do that too …. OMG that’s me!
Thank you for sharing these awkward moments. Made me feel good that I’m not alone.
as an extrovert, I usually just walk away in #6 situation. For #10, just say I got things to do now so talk to you later.
Great posting. It almost reminds me of the old Jeff Foxworthy routine. ” you might be an introvert if ” and you could just list all 10 points. Seriously is there an introvert out there anywhere who hasn’t dealt with all 10 in a social setting?
Very true, Rick. 🙂
“Extroverts seem to have a secret code for knowing when to speak up. Or they just don’t care about interrupting each other.” Yes!
Hehe, glad you agree! 🙂
If we are half of the population, why are we so concerned about what the extrovert half feel about us? Roughly half the people in the group feel the way you do. I’ve been in the daydream, I’ve been interrupted, taken too long to respond, spoken way too slowly and not shared. I don’t feel totally responsible for all of the conversation and realize that others have to learn to be polite in conversation. DON’T cut me off because I speak slowly. Polite conversationalists won’t leave a 3rd wheel. They will endeavour to include you in the conversation. Maybe it’s just time to find a different group of people with whom to associate.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Felicia! 🙂
As an extrovert, I’m really enjoying all these insights into how an introvert views a conversation. It’s weird, but I suppose I thought we all approached conversations pretty much the same way.
I have to say, having read this post of yours, Michaela, I’m trying to be a little more considerate of OTHER people needing time to finish their thoughts, or wanting to interject a comment. Or just listen quietly.
It’s really fascinating to try to wrap my mind around it. Thanks! P.S. I bought your book the other week. Just started it! I’m looking forward to reading it this holiday!
Thanks so much for sharing that Karen! It’s great to hear an extrovert’s perspective on this. 🙂
I thought everyone felt that way!
“You speak so slowly even you lose interest in what you’re saying.” That one made me ‘lol!’ I’ve found I do that a lot. I trail off and just hope the person I’m talking to understands what I mean.
Talking has become stressful for me lately. I’ve recently been hired for this job where networking is vital to the organization I work for. So, I gotta deal with constantly meeting new people, small talk, making a good impression, and all that…bologna. Yeah…what did I get myself into? Although, I think the risk is worth the reward.
Anyway, thanks for the posts. They’ve helped me a lot lately. Even though I may not reply all the time, just letting y’all know that I appreciate what Introvert Spring is doing. So, thank you very much Michaela and Marko……so…umm…yeah
Ken: I’m not sure if you saw my recent post, below, but I would give you a tip on socializing that works very well for me (as an extrovert): Just focus on the OTHER PERSON the whole time! Believe me, you don’t have to think of anything to impress other people, if you just LISTEN. Ask a few questions, make eye contact, then listen. It’s really amazing!
Experienced every one of them at some time or other, sometimes several in one social gathering…and that’s tough lol
Omg, yes to all those and…when you speak quietly there’s always that one d*ck who has to yell at you “YOU HAVE TO SPEAK UP!” which instantly makes the whole bloody room go quiet and everybody stares at you. Sigh.
I’ll add another comment (coming from an extrovert’s perspective): In my experience, I tend to focus on the OTHER person the entire time I’m talking (or almost the entire time). I don’t focus on the topic, or the idea, but the person him or herself.
I could be wrong, but many of these posts make it sound like typical introverts come into conversations expecting to talk about a TOPIC (i.e., global warming, or a movie or book), which can make it difficult. I don’t think I’ve ever entered a conversation like that, in recent memory. What I do (say, at the office): “Hey, Mary. (smile) How was your weekend?” At that point, I’m open to virtually ANY topic Mary might mention: Kids, weather, travel, pest control, what have you.
Only THEN (after her rejoinder), would I concentrate on something in particular. Usually a mutually shared topic: i.e., my experiences with the weather, or kids, or pest control, or nuclear proliferation. Is that what you do, introvert readers?
No, that’s not what I do, as an introvert. I absolutely hate “small talk”, which is what you have just described. I know that most conversations start that way, but I’m still uncomfortable talking FLUFF.
My most rewarding conversations have been with other introverts, but then those conversations can, happily, last for hours.
I’ll make small talk and try to end it with humor and walk away. If I am 1 on 1 and someone walks up I’ll let them kind of take over and slide away,inless I important things to talk about, and let them carry on.
I might do a Hey Mary, how was the weekend? If she responds positive I’ll probably say oh good to hear, with a smile and move on. More than that and I start to get annoyed but I’ll keep going cause it just seems to be the nice thing to do.
I guess just to me (as a natural extrovert), a lot of these “problems” evolve from not focusing on the other person, so much as on a topic (or even possibly on yourself). I don’t believe I think like that. As I’ve gotten older (I’m in my 40’s now), I do it even less… People say I’m an excellent conversationalist.
I’ve never thought about WHY really, until now. HMM. Food for thought!!
Excellent post, Michaela! You were right on with the points you shared! Actually, it’s a relief knowing I’m not the only one! Though being in awkward situations has also helped me learn and has especially helped me more considerate when others take the time to converse with me.
Why are you so quiet?
I hate this question.
Oh man tell me about it
i love solitude but ..you know life or rather people
Number 6 – I just leave. If they don’t care to talk to me, they don’t care I’ve left. They won’t even notice this and I assume from their perspective it does not look rude. But if it does – they were rude first by not seeing me. Si all in all – there’s no problem. Or I just say in the middle – OK I have to go, bye. I don’t mind.
The number 7, 9 and 10 hits me hard. And one of the question I hate is, Why are you so quiet?, I don’t know what to say.