Here’s the thing about introverts. A lot of people don’t understand our ‘strange’ behavior. Instead of trying to understand, they usually make assumptions that are way off base. I don’t really blame them.
People see the world through the lens of their own experiences. Since extroverts experience the world very differently than introverts, they are often confused by our actions. The body language and behavior that they interpret as sadness, rudeness, or weirdness could be something totally different for us.
It can be really frustrating to spend your whole life being misunderstood by louder and more outgoing personalities. These people try to give you all sorts of labels: the shy one, the strange one, the loner, the nerd, the homebody. When someone tells you who or what you are enough times, you start to believe them. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
It’s time for introverts to take back our identity. One of the ways we can do this is by helping extroverts to understand us. That’s why I’m setting the record straight by decoding some of our most confusing behaviors.
5 Strange Introvert Behaviors Decoded
Introverts can be like magicians. One moment you see us and then, poof, we’re gone. Contrary to popular belief, our disappearing acts usually have nothing to do with us being rude, angry, or depressed. We don’t hate you, we just need some space to recharge and hear our own thoughts.
Giving you the silent treatment
When an introvert goes quiet it can mean something entirely different from an extrovert doing so. Talking and socializing in general are draining for introverts. Going quiet is a way of preserving what little energy we have left.
Also, we don’t tend to speak just for the sake of filling empty air space. We talk when we have something of value to say and recognize that sometimes silence is better than empty chatter.
“Hello, earth to Michaela.” This was something I heard a lot when I was younger and I zoned out frequently. I was like a robot that suddenly went into low power mode, body frozen in place, eyes glazed, mouth sealed shut.
It was almost as if I was meditating in the middle of a conversation. Now I see that zoning out is my brain’s way of taking a break when it’s overstimulated by too much socializing. I also zone out when I’m bored.
I can only imagine the assumptions people make when I’m staring blankly into space like a zombie. The word “serial killer” comes to mind. Hopefully they realize I’m not planning murder, I’m just daydreaming.
Avoiding small talk
Introverts go to great lengths to avoid small talk. I can see how our efforts might be seen as strange. We give one word answers in the hopes that our lack of engagement will end the small talk ambush. Instead, our behaviour is often misinterpreted as an invitation for overly chatty extroverts to tell us their life story.
We might also ask questions that make small talkers feel uncomfortable:
Small talker: “It sure was sunny today.”
Introvert: “Yeah, so do you believe in life after death?”
We’re not trying to weird you out. We just want to have a meaningful conversation instead of talking about things no one really cares about.
Being overly guarded
A lot of people think that introverts are guarded because we’re shy or we’re jerks. But our crossed arms and closed off vibe aren’t necessarily signs that we’re mean or angry. We’re just protecting our energy, saving it for people we can trust and with whom we can be ourselves.
What do you think?
Can you relate to the ‘strange’ behavior that’s often misunderstood? Share your comments below if you like. And if you would like to receive introvert articles, confidence lessons, and ebooks I don’t share on the blog, join my mailing list. You’ll also get a free Introvert Connection Guide.