Introverts are unassuming observers who understand deeply, but rarely feel understood. This is annoying, to say the least. It sucks to feel like the puzzle no one will ever solve. Most people don’t even bother trying. But there is hope.
Over the past few years, there’s been an introvert revolution. More and more people have heard about the true definition of an introvert — someone who gains energy from being in solitude and loses energy in stimulating environments.
With greater understanding comes greater acceptance. Finally, people are starting to see that introversion is not an affliction that needs to be cured or fixed. Introverts are awesome just the way we are. But not everyone gets it yet.
There are still some lost souls out there who misunderstand introverts in the most annoying ways. Hopefully, this blog post will help set the record straight.
7 Annoying Ways People Misunderstand Introverts
1. They misinterpret our quietness
Every introvert has heard the question, “why are you so quiet?’ more times than we can count. And it gets more annoying every time we hear it! Most of the time, people misinterpret our quietness. They think we’re angry, depressed, or just plain snobby. But it’s usually none of the above.
An introvert’s brain processes more information at a time than an extrovert’s. Going quiet and retreating into our imagination gives our brain the chance to rest and reset. We also don’t like talking if we don’t have anything meaningful to say. Introverts hate small talk, so we’d rather stay quiet than pollute the airspace with superficial chatter.
2. They underestimate our intelligence
Unfortunately, in today’s extrovert-biased society, people confuse outspokenness with confidence and intelligence. But he who speaks the loudest is not necessarily the smartest. Introverts may not say much, but we have a universe of creative ideas inside our head. While our extroverted coworkers shout out the first thoughts that come to their head, we tend to take our time and only share fully formed ideas
3. They think we need them to speak for us
Hey, I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes it can be great to have a talkative extrovert on your side. They can keep conversations afloat when an introvert’s energy levels start sinking. But sometimes they take it too far.
They misinterpret our word economy as an invitation to speak over and above us. They might also speak for us in group conversations, assuming we can’t speak up for ourselves. This can make introverts feel belittled. Trust that we can speak for ourselves if we want to.
4. They think our silence is an invitation
Conversations get tiring for introverts. Even listening can be exhausting, especially if our conversation partner speaks quickly and doesn’t pause. After a while, we may want to slow down, and enjoy a few moments of silence. Unfortunately, people see our lack of response as an invitation to keep talking…and talking…and talking. Please. Just stop.
5. They assume we’re shy
Introversion and shyness are not the same thing. Both introverts and extroverts can be shy because shyness has to do with a fear of social interactions. Introversion, on the other hand, has more to do with where you get your energy.
6. They think we have no backbone
Just because introverts are calm and soft spoken, doesn’t make us pushovers. Introverts can be confident and assertive, sometimes surprisingly so. Don’t misinterpret our gentle nature as a sign of weakness. Introverts can be as bold and courageous as any extrovert.
7. They misread our facial expressions
Let’s face it, most introverts have a resting b*tch face. People think our pinched expression is a sign that we are silently judging them. Or that we are mad at them. Or just plain grumpy. Nope. We’re just quietly planning your demise. ?
Just kidding, an introvert’s resting b*tch face is just our default expression when we are daydreaming.
For more introvert wisdom, be sure to subscribe to my mailing list. You’ll get introvert articles and resources I never share on the blog. You’ll also get a 50-page Introvert Connection Guide for free.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I shared today. Feel free to comment below. 🙂
P.S. If you’re new to the blog, allow me to introduce myself. I’m Michaela Chung, author of The Irresistible Introvert and creator of this amazing innie community we have here. For several years, I’ve been building up a labyrinth of introvert resources that will take you on a magical journey toward more confidence, connection, and self-love. Start the journey here.
Yes, all of this! As an infj, #6 is just laughable! I wish kids in school weren’t pushed to act like extraverts as though they’ll fail in life otherwise. There is a lot of future worth in those wise thinking heads! I myself didn’t understand that introverts aren’t shy, they simply refuel alone, until I started digging more and finding myself on infj pages. I am an introvert, not an impatient extravert! ?Kids need to know that it’s okay to stay true to themselves…it is NOT a defect! Thanks for sharing this. Teachers should read it too. ?
Thanks, Becky. Well said! 🙂
As always, very insightful, Michaela! So important for those closest to us to truly understand who we are. IBut, no matter how you try, some will never get what being an introvert means. So I’ve learned to stop trying to make these folks understand. Sadly, this may necessitate pulling away from such people. Instead, we need to cherish and embrace those that truly get us.
Thanks, Bob. It’s true, some may never understand, even if they say they do. xo
I also find it frustrating how it seems to be perfectly acceptable to tell an introvert that they’re “too quiet” or “need to talk more” but if you told an extrovert that they were too loud or needed to be quiet that would be considered rude. That double standard has always irritated me.
I don’t need to be told to talk more. If I wanted to talk I would. It’s like if you aren’t constantly filling the air with useless chatter then you must need someone to come to your rescue and inform you that you should be talking. No thanks, I’m good.
Exactly! I agree, Samantha. xo
Oh how true Michaela I get so annoyed when I get asked why am so quiet geesh and no I don’t need
To talk more lol like last night visiting with”chatty Cathy” had to ask her to go home, yes #4 and 7 thanks u for sharing
When your world is constant noise, it’s challenging to recharge. There are possible ways, such as tuning out the world with headphones, but that only creates more noise, even thought it may be music or nature sounds or whatever Tedx Talks you may find.
Silence is truly golden. When it can be had, it is precious. Again, that is usually the challenge that I personally face: getting the silence to recharge and refresh, so that I can function. Sleep is a great way to get that silence, but then there is the constant noise, once I awake.
Conversation is important, but it is challenging as an introvert. The points you make, Michaela, are valid ones. As an INFP as well as an HSP, what are ways to find other introverts?
This article is spot on Michaela! For me, it’s most apparent in the workplace, where extroverts and others who misunderstand tend to get passive aggressive, manipulative and belittling simply due to their misunderstanding of us. A simple conversation can often times alleviate a lot of their misperceptions and drama, but sadly many extroverts feel they don’t have to understand us, since they’re in the majority.
Thank you for your insights!
I also agree with Samantha. What I find even more irritating is when these people constantly push us to speak and, when we find at last the guts to speak up, they interrupt us or talk over us. I constantly struggle with word retrieval and at the slightest “hum, what’s that word again…”, the extrovert in the room jumps in and doesn’t let me finish. If I even tell them that I wasn’t done and politely ask them to wait until I finish my story, they’d scowl at me.
Michaela, I can understand why #4 gets you. Some of my relatives are real gossip hens and everytime I visit them, I get a complete report of the lives of our relatives, their neighbours or the latest celebs. Gee, why should I care about the wedding of the son of Mum’s friend from the embroidery club? Also, because I don’t talk much, they assume that nothing happens in my life or that I do nothing. I do a lot of things – I just want to keep them for myself (or how can I talk about the latest high-tech developments to someone who can’t handle a laptop?)
Yes to all of these Michaela, especially 2! This is so common that I’ve had the experience multiple times of observing surprise and even shock on some babbling extrovert’s face when I finally speak up- eloquently. In the same way that non-native english speakers are automatically dismissed as less intelligent, the conflating of chattiness with intelligence is so pervasive!
I may have shared this before, but it is one of my favourite quotes:
“The quietest people have the loudest minds.” Stephen Hawking
Last year at age 70 my life was saved when I received a random Pinterest notif showing some “sayings” attributed to INJ blah blah letters- stunned by how I resonated; it was one of the happiest vindicated days of my life. From there I luckily found Michaela and bathe in the glory of her personal expression in this revolution of the the truth .. aahhhhhhhhhhh. When I inform others of my greatest personal discovery- they are in dis-belief (and I could care less) .. I’ve spent my entire business life, 50+ years, fitting into a sales mold and despite vast success, a big epiphany to realize what I was willing (?) to give up, like my very soul. I could go on and on here but save to say Thank You from the bottom of my heart Michaela.
Thank you for this Michaela.
In my long ago schooldays my Latiin teacher told me, in front of the class, that she never knew what I was thinking!
As a member of the school Literary and Debating Society another teacher wished that I had more to say because when I did speak what I said was appreciated!
Numerous similar comments throughout my adult life but contrary perhaps to expectations my working life involves lots of public speaking, chairing meetings etc.
I appreciate all you do to raise public awareness.
Almost all of them relate to me especially 6 and 2.
Ditto to all of the comments above! Especially regarding kids in school. My front bay window faces the playground of an elementary school. As I watched the teacher parade her new classroom of individuals around the school yard on the first day of school, single file, no talking, etc, I realized how we’re pushed to all be the same at a very early age. I have a granddaughter that, so far, is clearly an introvert. I watch how everyone worries that she is “so shy” and needs to “get our of her shell”. She’s smart as a whip and takes note of everything around her! I constantly have to stand up for “her right” to be an introvert. Amazing how we want everyone to be the same! I sit and listen to our family members at large gatherings. Everyone talking loudly but nobody listening…except me…until I’ve had enough and retreat. Well said Michaela! I agree with all of the comments.
I’ ve been reading your newsletters for some time now and I must admit that they’re superb. I am an introvert alone, closing to my 30s. I have to say that sometimes I would just cry out because I cannot be like others. The others, siblings and parents, friends, aquaintances, take your pick – they do not understand that I’m an introvert. It gives me a lot of trouble, not just at home but at work as well. They say I’m not confident, too serious and not making any jokes. It’s very hard to live. When I’m seeing someone laughing and full of energy, I feel very bad. Nevertheless, good article and I’m looking forward to seeing the newsletters in the future. Regards, Nejc from Slovenia
Great article and so true, the only person ever to recognize my introversion as natural is a Japanese friend, I don’t try to explain myself anymore, I have learned to love who I am, as a child my parents even had the nerve to take me to a Psychiatrist! I just played crazy by repeating his questions, I was labeled as anti-social, I love people! For a minute I wanted to be like others, but now I love the uniqueness of being me.
Michaela, your depictions of these seven blunders of the extraverted world are spot on. I work in a very extraverted environment, and as I reflect on my interactions with various coworkers, I can especially resonate with #1, 2, 6 & 7 — particularly as a male. Many days are an exercise of navigating an obstacle course of misunderstandings and feigning interest in the subtle intricacies of dialogue belonging to a badly written sitcom. It’s like a spin off of “Friends”, except lacking all the maturity and depth that series brought to the screen. I read and write to survive and catch a glimpse of sanity once in awhile. I’ll share a couple of my own observations.
TWO OBSERVAIONS ON CONVERSATION
Sometimes shooting the breeze
can kill the wind of a good conversation
just waiting and about to swirl
between you and I,
some people can run at the mouth
without ever reaching the finish line.
THE ANXIETY OF SILENCE
is for us
an empty canvas upon which
we are compelled to apply a few strokes
of voice and sound…
…if only because we fear
the quiet spaces
in our lives
are without color.
of course I agree with this one too, especially what’s written about misreaded silence. I don’t get it at all. why people tend to translate our silence as they like to? is it so hard to ask? we are here too! we have our own opinion!
Nailed it! If I had a dollar for every time someone (including my own parents) told me to come out of my shell, stop being quiet or ask why I was looking so grumpy, I would not be spending my Friday evening making a grocery list! I agree with Mina about just when you think people want your thoughts or opinion, they cut you off mid stream so they can talk even more.
It took some time, but I have been blessed to find a husband who gets me and my quiet nature, and is mostly introverted himself. Our daughter is as well and I constantly tell her that being quiet is a good thing, being loud and extroverted isn’t always the best way.
Here’s to everyone with quiet voices, but deep and active minds!
I love this blog. It’s a fascinating and engaging look at introversion. Keep up the good work!
Forget other people. Just be yourself if you are introverted. The world would adjust to your true personality.
In my blog, I encourage readers to be who they are and follow their hearts.
Beautiful advice! Thank you!
as a child, i was constantly compared to other kids and told i wasn’t smart. i knew deep down this wasn’t true as i always did research on introversion and things alike. however, during presentations and debates i didn’t have so much as an ounce of stage fright but the so called extroverted kids could not be compared to me while on stage. michaela, i really wanna create more awareness on introversion especially here in africa where people are not too informed on such obscure matters！
Greatly explained! To me, #1, #2 and #4 are my most common ones.