Introverts are often interpreted badly and their more quiet nature is misunderstood as being aloof, uncaring, judging, and snobbish. When we need time alone to recharge, people around us may feel we are pulling away from them, ignoring them, or abandoning them, if our needs aren’t communicated clearly.
If you are someone who likes to observe before sharing in a conversation, you may be perceived as disinterested or lacking in knowledge. In truth, you have a tremendous amount to share, but like to listen and understand the dynamics going on around you first before contributing.
Here are three essential introvert communication tips that I share in my coaching program to help introverts communicate in a way that is both authentic and effective.
When you are around people that don’t understand your natural way as an introvert, you may develop habits of apologizing for your needs and for your behavior when there is nothing to apologize for. You are an amazing soul and your natural way of being is part of the miraculous design that is you.
Communicate your needs
It is a beautiful thing to be quiet as you interact in the world because your interactions are connecting on deeper levels. However, not speaking up about your needs is harmful to your wellbeing.
One piece of advice I emphasize with my clients is that it is important that you clearly communicate your need for time to recharge. It is also helpful to explain what that recharging time looks like for you.
You can give the people around you the opportunity to understand, honor and assist you in achieving your need to recharge by explaining that it is a core way that you function. Just like breathing, your alone time is a life-giving force.
Let them know that you want to be present for them and this time alone will give you the energy needed to be at your best when you’re with them. I like to use “I want” and “I need” statements. For example:
“I want to be present for you today and hear all about your event, but first, I need to take a quiet walk alone to recharge and then I would love to join you”.
To become more aware of how you are communicating, practice pausing. Pause during your conversation to allow yourself to tune in and notice if you are over-explaining or justifying.
If you are, mindfully proceed in the conversation to communicate in a manner that is not justifying or explaining to seek approval. The pause may feel uncomfortable for you and for the other person(s), but it will empower you to communicate in a way that honors you and your needs.
I encourage you to practice the pause with someone you feel comfortable with. Choose a gentle, caring friend or loved one, who will understand you are strengthening your communication skills and will stay with you through the awkward pause moments. As you gain confidence in this practice, it will become a habit that you can apply in any conversation.
Take your time and be gentle with yourself. Share your needs without over-explaining or apologizing. Each time you communicate your needs, practice the pause. And if one time doesn’t go so well, it is okay. There will be plenty of other opportunities to practice.
Kaitlyn Mirison is an inner essence coach who guides introverted artists who are chronic people pleasers to come home within and live their soul. Through her coaching, she guides introverts through the process of unlocking their inner power and creating like never before.
I’d like to get your opinion on something, if that’s ok. Do you think extroverts are distrustful of introverts?
Do they wonder what is going on inside our heads, and assume it must be bad? I ask this because at school (admittedly a time when we have possibly not become our best selves), I would often hear whispers that people hated me, despite barely knowing me. I felt at the time it must be something specific I was doing wrong. I tried hard to blend in an be unassuming and inoffensive, but that only made it worse. Being loud and obnoxious was how to become popular.
As I have grown older, and left in the microcosm that is school, I notice this less, but I wonder if it still bubbles under the surface. Does my introversion in itself make extroverts dislike/distrust me? Should I even care?
Great question, Laura. I think school is a tough place to be an introvert because people are generally less accepting of someone who seems to be outside the realm of “normal”. Outside of school, people still make assumptions about introverts because we are not as outwardly expressive. They either think we are shy or snobby or judgmental or any number of other things. What I’ve noticed is that if you are an introvert who is obviously confident (ie. NOT shy) many people are very confused by this. They can’t understand your behavior because to them, quiet means shy. So, if you’re not timid in your quietness, they assume it’s because your arrogant/mean/selfish. I’ve encountered this a lot. I think being a woman only amplifies this problem because people have an easier time accepting men who don’t talk much.
Kaitlyn, I love your suggestion to PAUSE while in conversation. I often find myself talking increasingly faster when I’m excited about something. By the end of the conversation my heart’s pounding and I’m out of breath. I don’t know why I get carried away like that, but pausing sounds like a great way to take a mental pulse on the pace and slow down if needed. Thanks for the tip.
I’m having a hard time communicating clearly with my supervisor at work. Both of us have been left frustrated w/ lack of ideas or miscommunications. What I do want to say & what I actually say come out completely different. Any suggestions? Thank you