For readers of my blog, it should come as no surprise that I’m an introvert. With posts like Top 5 Reasons to Become a Hermit, Stores That Overwhelm Me, The Holiday Party Survival Guide or Reasons to Stay in Bed Today, you really should have guessed.
But being an introvert does not mean I’m mousy, shy or a little touched in the brain. Okay, it might mean those things, but introverts are a misunderstood group of people, probably because we just don’t care enough about your opinion to set the record straight. So I’m here to set the record straight.
We’ve been called “people haters” or “brooding wallflowers.” Those names are correct. Just kidding. Kind of. Here’s an explanation about what makes introverts tick (and it’s not the vest-bomb strapped to our chests).
We Hate Small Talk. I can easily teach a crowded yoga class or speak in front of dozens of people. But I’d rather eat Black Widow spiders than make small talk with a stranger. I usually end up saying something stupid, then run off to hide in the bathroom.
- Instead–I love authentic interaction. While “networking” feels forced and disingenuous, if you get an introvert talking about something they love–you’ll never get them to shut the hell up.
We don’t hate people. As a species, I have nothing against humans. But put me in a social situation like a party, a wedding or standing in line at the grocery store, and it takes all my strength to not run out the door screaming.
- Instead–Forgive me if I decline invitations or don’t call you back immediately. Just like your computer needs to power down, so do introverts. Give us time to recharge, and instead of wishing you dead, we’ll gladly enjoy lunch with you. Usually.
(My default position in most social situations.)
We’re not stupid. Just because we’re not the loudest voice in the room, doesn’t mean we’re mute. Sometimes you need to shut up long enough for us to voice an opinion. Rarely will we interrupt your never-ending monologue. Silence does not equal dumb.
- Instead—We’re quiet because we’re thinking and/or listening. (You should try it.) Introverts ponder what has been said to find the best response. We don’t often blurt out the first thing we think. If that were the case, many of our conversations would end with us saying, “If another sound comes out of your mouth, I will poison your coffee.”
Don’t single us out. Extroverts think they can “cure” introverts by putting them on the spot, or placing them on a group project. We’re not sick. We’re not “less than.” We don’t need your help to save us. We’re actually very creative thinkers that include people like Eleanor Roosevelt, J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates and Albert Einstein.
- Instead—Let us work alone, without noisy distractions (like your voice). We’re writers, creators, artists and innovators. Let us do our thing, going quietly into the world, making big changes.
(The person who owned this car shouldn’t have put me in charge of planning the company party.)
So if you work with, are married to or have ever encountered an introvert, there is nothing to fear. Unless you don’t give us space. Then you might end up with a nice stab wound in the thigh.