The introvert possibility movement has been a wonderful thing for quiet people. Finally, we introverts are being seen as people with their own unique gifts and talents rather than a “broken” extroverts.
It has also had some unintended negative effects, though. One of these is that some (though of course not all) introverts use their introverted nature to excuse behaviors that most people actually consider rude or annoying. I’ve done it myself from time to time. But it’s not a good things and I really think we should stop.
I hesitated to write this post because so many introverts have been wrongly accused of being rude simply because people misinterpret our introverted natures. We talked about that in a post earlier this week, “5 Things Introverts Do That Might Seem Rude to Others, but Are Actually Normal For Us.” But setting that aside, there are certain things that some introverts do that really can be rude or annoying and which we use our introverted nature as an excuse for. Let’s take a look at five of them.
1) Refusing To Small Talk
I know, I know — introverts hate small talk because it creates barriers between people. Well guess what? Most people hate spending all their time on small talk. But they also recognize that small talk is an important step in relationships and there are times when refusing to engage in small talk is just plain rude. Read more →
Many introverts, including me, have been accused at various time of being rude, annoying, or arrogant. While it’s true that an introvert could be all those things, in many cases the issue is a misunderstanding rather than intentional rudeness on the introvert’s part.
No one should get a pass on being rude, including introverts. But sometimes things that may come across as rude to others are just an accidental “side effect” of how the introvert prefers to interact with the world. Instead of being caused by something the introvert is doing wrong, the idea that we’re rude is based on false assumptions other people make about our motives.
This sort of misinterpretation can come from fellow introverts as well as from extroverts. I’ve heard several people who I know are introverted make comments about how someone who’s quiet (and who I know is uncomfortable in groups) seems stand-offish or stuck-up. Even when we ourselves know what it’s like to be a quiet person we can still misinterpret quietness in others.
1) Watching Instead of Interacting
This is one of the most common things introverts do and it’s also one of the things that’s most often interpreted as being rude. Usually what happens is the introvert is in some kind of group where there’s more than one other person around, and the introvert is watching what’s happening instead of engaging in conversation or participating in an activity.
People assume this is rude when they start pretending they can read minds. They may think the introvert is bored with what’s going on and wants to leave. Some might assume the introvert is silently judging everyone else and feels like they’re “too good” for the people around them. Other could say the introvert must hate people because they’re not having fun.
In the introvert’s head, though, it’s far more likely that they’re enjoying the gathering in their own way. We like listening and observing. We’re comfortable with silence. We’re probably having more fun on the sidelines than we would be as the center of attention. Of course, there’s always a chance that we might be distracted by our own thoughts or trying to think of a polite way to leave because our social batteries have run low but even then most of us don’t mean to be rude.
2) Avoiding Other People
This one can be rude or not rude depending on the context. Actively avoiding someone for no good reason, refusing to answer a friend’s message, or otherwise vanishing from people’s lives is (usually) rude. But it’s not rude to eat lunch alone because you need a break from people during your workday. It’s not rude to decline an invitation to a weekend party because you’ve been doing something social most of the week and need a break.
We need to learn to balance our “introvert time” and our investments in relationships. But the people around us also need to learn that introverts need their down time in order to function. Let introverts recharge and we’ll be much more likely not to avoid all human interaction.
3) Keeping Your Personal Life Private
This should be a no-brainer. After all, someone’s personal life is by definition personal. But sometimes people think it’s rude if someone decides not to share personal information. This is, quite frankly, a “them problem.” Neither introverts nor extroverts are obligated to share things they want to keep private with other people. It’s not rude if you choose not to share personal stories.
Introverts tend to be fairly private people and may keep things to themselves that others are comfortable letting everyone know. If an introvert chooses not to share something with you, don’t take it as a sign that they don’t trust or like you. They might simply be choosing to keep their personal lives private and that’s okay.
4) Being Nervous in Social Situations
Introverts tend to have a limited amount of social energy. While we all have an extroverted side, how strong it is varies depending on the individual introvert. Every introvert can reach a point where socialization is too overwhelming and they’re ready to go home and recharge. Plus, on top of the fact that social situations are draining, many introverts also struggle with nervousness when meeting new people. And some of us have social anxiety and/or shyness that we’re dealing with, too.
A nervous introvert can come across to others as standoffish. The introvert might be panicking about what to say next while the other person thinks its rude that they’re being so quiet. Though some may assume the introvert thinks they’re better than everyone else, it’s much more likely that a socially nervous introvert is just really worried about making a good impression or is wondering why someone wanted to talk with them.
For example, if an introvert declines an invitation to stick around after they’ve unexpectedly run across someone, they probably mean to be polite by not inconveniencing them. An extrovert in a similar situation might think turning down that invitation is rude or insulting because it sends the message you don’t want to be around the other person. Same situation, different perspectives on what’s polite. Neither perspective is necessarily wrong but if we don’t recognize that there are different perspectives it can lead to misunderstandings.
What are some things you do as an introvert that people have incorrectly interpreted as you trying to be rude?
A few weeks ago, I was in a conversation with someone who quoted Ben Shapiro saying, “Facts don’t care about your feelings.” The tension between facts and feelings is a topic that’s been coming up quite a bit in discussions recently for me, as I’ve talked with people who are frustrated by how many people today ignore scientific research related to several issues that I don’t want to get into right now. My reason for bringing this up is that listening to these comments prompted a related thought.
Feelings don’t care about your facts.
You can have all the research in the world to back you up but when feelings are involved people (as a whole) just don’t care. You can’t root out deeply help opinions by inundating people with logical reasoning. It’s like if you’ve ever spilled cooking oil on your clothes and then tried to scrub it out with water. The facts just run right off because they doesn’t mesh with what we already hold true.
“As a result of the well-documented confirmation bias, we tend to undervalue evidence that contradicts our beliefs and overvalue evidence that confirms them. We filter out inconvenient truths and arguments on the opposing side. As a result, our opinions solidify, and it becomes increasingly harder to disrupt established patterns of thinking.” — “Facts Don’t Change People’s Minds. Here’s What Does” by Ozan Varol
At its most simple, “Confirmation bias occurs from the direct influence of desire on beliefs. When people would like a certain idea or concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true.” Once we get an idea in our heads, we tend to hold on tight to information that supports it and ignore or reject anything that would threaten this idea. These tightly-held ideas can be anything from a political view, to an understanding of how the world works, to a belief about yourself (“What Is Confirmation Bias?” by Shahram Heshmat Ph.D.).
It’s Not Just “Them”
We tend to think that we’re right and other people who disagree with us are wrong. We can easily see confirmation bias at work in others, and many of us are more than happy to point that problem out and offer correction.
This isn’t just a problem with other people, though. It’s a problem with you and me too. We all have confirmation bias about the things we believe. We all filter-out opposing information and gravitate toward the things that agree with us. No matter how rational and fact based we think we are, we’re also influenced by confirmation bias. If we want to understand why it’s so hard to change people’s minds we need to recognize what’s happening in ourselves as well as in them. Read more →
Introverts need people. This isn’t something you’ll hear about very often, though. Most of the time, you’ll either hear people who are critical of introverts complaining about how unsociable we are or you’ll hear introverts talking about how much we dislike being around other people.
Humans are social creatures, however. We have different preferences for how much and in what ways we socialize, but we all need other people. Being an introvert doesn’t mean you hate people. It just means that you’re born with a trait that makes you prefer the internal world. It means you re-charge better in quiet, low-stimulation environments, not that you do well in social isolation.
So what’s an introvert to do? If you don’t like typical social events or groups, how do you avoid the mental and physical health risks of loneliness while also honoring your introverted nature?
This list includes tips for introvert-friendly ways to socialize with other people. Some of these assume you’re trying to meet new people, while others are great for doing with people you already know.
1) Attend An Interesting Event
It’s not all that difficult to find out about events going on in your local area. Check city websites, Google “local events,” or browse through events on Facebook. There’s bound to be something in the area that interests you and there are often options for small gatherings (like a morning yoga meet-up) as well as larger ones. If you’re at an event that interests you, you have a good chance of meeting people with similar interests and perhaps even finding a local group to join. Read more →
You might meet an INFJ who picks up on so much about you that it seems like they’re reading your mind.
Or perhaps you know an ESFJ so in-tune with how people work in groups that every event they plan is an unqualified success.
You might find yourself in a group lead by an ENFJ who manages to make every single person there feel included.
Maybe you meet an ISFJ who knows exactly how to act in dozens of different social situations and always makes the people they interact with feel valued.
The FJ types all use a mental process called Extroverted Feeling, or “Harmony” (to use Personality Hacker’s nickname). ENFJs and ESFJs use it as their favorite (or primary) mental function. INFJs and ISFJs use it as their co-pilot (or auxiliary) function. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at how this cognitive function helps INFJs, ISFJs, ENFJs, and ESFJs read other people. Read more →
This latter question went in a curious direction that I’ve been pondering for more than a week now. Because PC topics are so emotionally charged, “many of us become emotionally blinded and we don’t bring in a lot of logic,” to quote Jator Pierre. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that most of us don’t know how to take responsibility for how we feel or how to effectively communicate and share in a back-and-forth dialogue.
Taking Away Voices
Wikipedia says the term political correctness “is used to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage to members of particular groups in society.” It sounds good in theory, but in practice it has turned into a culture where certain people try to silence any ideas or words that offed them without caring how that might affect others outside the PC-protected groups. Instead of seeing words as vehicles to communicate different viewpoints and facilitate dialogue, they see words as violent and react defensively.
“Not many of us are taught how to communicate, how to share, how to dialogue, how to hear, how to reflect, and how to notice when we’re emotionally charged to be able to take maybe a step back for a second or two to feel what’s coming up, to notice what’s coming up, and then to continue on with a dialogue. Most of us go into a defended posture, in my experience, and then go on the attack.” — Jator Pierre
It also has the side-effect of encouraging the offended person blame others for how they feel. We’re heading toward a culture where people think they have a right to avoid being offended by someone else. What they don’t realize or care about is that their refusal to hear offensive things leads to them hurting and/or shutting down others who don’t agree with them. Instead of bringing people together the PC movement creates further polarization and enmity. Read more →