What NOT to say to an introvert - Introvert Spring

“You are quiet.” This is a loaded statement for introverts, which is sure to get our backs up.   Why, you might ask?  For one, you are pointing out the obvious.  It’s kind of like telling a black person he is black (can I say that?).

Yes, I’m quiet … and you’re loud … and Rome is the capital of Italy – what’s your point? Click to tweet.

Also, telling us we’re quiet makes us feel self-conscious.  Lets explore the different ways an introvert might interpret this statement:

  • You’re not talking enough. It’s really weird.
  • You’re making me feel uncomfortable.
  • Say something, moron!
  • I have no idea how to relate to you so I’m going to point it out in what I think is a polite way.

Introverted people have heard these dreaded three words countless times in their lives. Guaranteed.  And often they are delivered with an undertone of what the hell is wrong with you?

Even if you mean no harm, saying this will push a very big introvert button.  So, before you push that button, consider how your introvert might react:

  • She will feel self-conscious and clam up.
  • She will be annoyed and pull away.
  • She will be angry and you might have the rare opportunity of seeing an introvert lose her temper (this would require an extra malicious delivery).

To be honest, I’m really not sure what response people expect from this statement.

We won’t take it as a compliment; we won’t be intrigued and impressed by your groundbreaking insights; and we’re definitely not going to launch into a soliloquy about why we are so quiet.

Generally, introverts don’t know how to respond when people tell us we are quiet.  Ummm … Thanks?  I know?

If you don’t know what else to say to an introvert, here are some preferred alternatives:

  • This plant is really green.
  • I like marshmallows. How about you?
  • Umm … cough, cough … (extended awkward silence) …
  • So … how you doin’?
  • I feel awkward.  I don’t know what to talk about.

That last one actually is a valid option.  Personally, I really appreciate it when people cut through the crap and say how they truly feel.  Most introverts are relieved when you skip the small talk and delve into more personal topics.  Just don’t go overboard and tell us your life story over the crab dip.