Discover what makes quiet people tick.
Living as an introvert in a world that values extroversion can be challenging. If you’re interested in learning more about the quiet people in your life—and extending them some grace—here are some tips:
1. Text, don’t call
This is central to introvert DNA. Nothing disturbs our peace more than the shrill ringing of a phone. It is so incredibly intrusive, especially if it’s from someone who, frankly, we don’t want to talk to. My view is this: it’s my phone. I’m not gonna answer if I don’t want to. Calling me multiple times in a row will not change this. There are times, of course, when phone calls can’t be avoided, but usually those are planned, for example in the case of a phone interview. Knowing that a call is scheduled, and being able to prepare for it mentally makes a huge difference. I am not completely against phone calls, however. Calls from my mom, sister, and other members of my inner circle are welcomed. Other than that, #IssaNo. So do the introverts in your life a favor: if what you have to say can be texted, then please just text it.
2. Small talk is death
Introverts abhor small talk. It’s forced. It’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. And it makes us die a little inside. We’re not against conversation altogether, we’re just way more at ease talking to our inner circle, and having deep discussions about meaningful topics. So if at all possible, we will go out of our way to avoid it. (I admit that more than once I have crossed the street to avoid chatting about the weather with a neighbor or acquaintance.)
3. Alone time is breath
Introverts need “me time” like plants need sunshine. It’s an absolute must. Since being around people often drains us, spending time alone is our opportunity to recharge our batteries and get back to center after too much peopleing. For me, introvert heaven definitely involves alone time alone on the couch enjoying my favorite book or movie. Not having to interact with anyone is incredibly refreshing.
4. We love time alone, but we also love time with “our people”
Despite what you might think, introverts actually like being around people—they just have to be our people. Once we have recharged our batteries by spending some time in our own company, we actually look forward to bonding with the folks that we care about.
5. Group projects are also death
I’ve never actually met anybody that likes group projects, but they are probably easier for extroverted personality types to deal with. For introverts it’s like attending a cocktail party full of strangers – which is bad enough – and then repeating that week after week. We’re pros, so of course we make it work, but we’re definitely uncomfortable the entire time. We’re uncomfortable because there’s too much chatter, too many people, too much jostling for position, too many awkward group activities, and too little focus on actually getting the work done. Not that we feel strongly about it or anything, lol.
6. We’re “extroverted” around the right people
Like Chadwick Boseman, introverts have a trusted inner circle. People who love and appreciate us exactly the way we are, and who don’t try to change our personality. The level of comfort that we feel in some people’s company helps us to relax and show our vivacious side. Some people that I’ve known for quite a while are surprised when they find out that I’m actually extremely introverted. “You don’t seem quiet!” they say. I tell them to consider my lack of decorum and loud laughter a compliment, because that means that I feel at ease around them.
7. Making us drink alcohol will not change our personality
Many have tried. All have failed. Attempting to “fix” or change an introvert’s personality, or “unleash their wild side” by trying to get us drunk is the absolute worst. Our personality is our personality, whether we drink alcohol or not. Also: we don’t need fixing, but you (you know who you are) might need to work on your desire to control and manipulate others. Just saying.
8. Living in an extroverted world is draining and stressful
As an introvert, I often feel overwhelmed by the world. Many introverts feel the same. We are adversely affected by people’s energy, people’s chatter, people’s proximity. Those of us who, like me, live at the intersection of introversion and HSP, are easily drained or overwhelmed by crowded places, loud noises, bright lights, forced interactions, and #AllTheEmotions. As a result, we often feel exhausted and in need of restorative time alone in our bubble.
9. We’re emotional, but not necessarily emotive
As alluded to above, many introverts are a sea of feelings, but unless they’re really comfortable around you, you might never know. We tend to get caught up in our own minds and emotions, but either have difficulty letting them out, or choose to hide them as a self-protective measure. To those who don’t know us well, our quietness, and apparent lack of emotion, can come across as coldness or disconnection. Meanwhile, our inner circle knows us as “the sensitive one” who melts over puppies and babies, shares too many hugs, says ‘I love you’ too often, and cries at commercials (especially if they feature puppies of babies, lol).
10. Quiet is our love language
It will come as no surprise that quiet is a love language for introverts; possibly our favorite one. Nothing soothes the soul, and calms our nerves, like coming back home to a silent house after a day of being assailed by the noises of the world. This isn’t possible for everyone, of course, especially people with young children. But even in that scenario, introverted parents often find creative ways to include some quiet time in their schedule—so that they can be better, happier parents.
11. Being quiet doesn’t mean we’re checked out
Although introverts tend to be quiet, our silence doesn’t mean that we’re not present and paying attention. Many people interpret our silence as a “lights on; nobody home” situation, but nothing could be further from the truth. Introverts have a very active inner world, and spend a lot of time thinking, analyzing, and strategizing. Our silence, particularly in a work or educational setting, can mean that we’re actually listening to what is being said, and processing the information. We’re fans of thinking before we speak, rather than expressing our unfiltered thoughts verbally in a jumbled stream of consciousness.
12. Boundaries are also our love language
Please respect our personal space, and where possible, respect our communication preferences as well. (*Ahem*: Text, don’t call.) And remember: no means no. So if you invite us somewhere and we say we don’t want to go, it means we don’t want to go. Please don’t try to pressure us to “get out there,” “live a little,” and “come out of our shell.” If you’re really trying to be a friend, why would you want us to be in a situation in which we’re miserable or uncomfortable? Are we happy to go out on maybe one of the weekend days? Absolutely. Do we want to go from party to party all weekend long? Absolutely not. Do we love having a friend over occasionally? For sure! Do we want to host a potluck at our house every other week? You guessed it: No. Self-knowledge is key. I am very clear that being the hostess with the mostest is not my ministry. And I am so ok with that. So I decline most invitations, and for the most part only invite my family to my home.
13. Talking over breakfast is a no
Breakfast chatters, I’m looking at you. Please give us some time to wake up and ease into our day before launching a full-on verbal assault. Getting our day off to a healthy start involves enjoying our breakfast quietly, preferably while reading a book.
14. Pressuring us to change our personality to “fit in” at work is not ok
I once worked for a company where they appeared more interested in my ability to host events than in my ability to do my job. I was hired as a writer, but seemingly my promotability hinged on whether I threw a successful Cinco de Mayo party. Go figure. Apparently I needed to do that in order to prove that I was a “culture fit.” I put my extroverted face on, threw the party, and have remained introverted to this day. Many introverts have experienced something similar, where they are either pressured to “get out there,” “speak up more,” and socialize, or are overlooked, underestimated, and bypassed when it’s promotion time—simply because they are quiet. It’s a form of discrimination and bullying, and is not ok at all.
15. We often find writing easier than talking
Many introverts are not so good at speaking off the cuff, but are much better at expressing ourselves in the written word. It gives us time to collect and organize our thoughts. Writing is also less exhausting than (you guessed it) small talk. Hence why we often prefer emailing or texting rather than calling. It also spares us from having to expend energy trying to appear extroverted.
16. Large, loud parties can be too much
I’m sure that this is not a surprise, but in case it is: big parties and introverts don’t mix. The mix of hyper people, loud music, close quarters, and generally too many stimuli make the experience unpleasant and stressful rather than fun and relaxing. In extreme cases, the sensory overload can lead to us feeling dizzy, anxious, and nauseous. So, unlike extroverts, introverts fight for the right to not paaaarrrtyyyyy. And if we do end up having to attend a big party, we make sure to have our escape plan ready. Speaking of which…
17. We like making a quiet exit
In a party situation, introverts will often do a fadeaway (also known as an Irish goodbye). It basically means leaving a party without doing the long rounds of small talk or announcing your departure in any way. I have never fully done this – the elders would not approve, lol – but I have come close, bidding goodbye only to my host(s) and then disappearing. Some call it rude, some call it strategic. I call it necessary.
18. Cancelled plans are a love language
Few things make an introvert happier than getting a text or email about a group activity that has been cancelled. This is almost always our best case scenario. We know that we have to socialize in order to fully participate in the world, but socializing is not really our thing. Many of us agree to go out, hang out, meet up, etc.—and if the gathering actually happens, we put our extroverted mask on and make the best of it. But if the gods are good and the event is cancelled? Wooo!! We literally do a happy dance.
19. Working from home is heaven
Most introverts find being in (and commuting to) an office extremely uncomfortable. There’s just too many people, too much sensory input, too many drive-by desk meetings, too many random conversations…it’s all too much. Please make working remotely a forever thing. Given a choice, introverts would prefer a million Zoom calls rather than one in-person meeting. We love the “meetings from the couch,” #CamerasOff life. Working from home makes it easier for us to focus, get our work done, and, (maybe best of all) avoid awkward small talk. (Have I mentioned that introverts hate small talk? lol)
20. We love ourselves the way we are
Society spends a lot of time and energy trying to “fix” introverts. Newsflash: we don’t need fixing. We’re fabulous and amazing exactly the way we are. We love being introverted.
21. As a reminder: text, don’t call
Seriously. We can’t stress this enough. If it’s textable: Do. Not. Call.
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Text/Images ⒸLisa Hurley/@happyhappyphoenix.