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What not to ask an introvert?

An introvert’s guide to talking to introverts

Introverts can seem shy, standoffish, or rude in social situations. In my experience, and trust me, I have a lot of experience here, that’s not often the case. Maybe it’s because I was homeschooled, but I straight up do not know how to behave like a normal human in large groups.

I want to have meaningful conversations. I want to connect with people on a deeper level and get past all the superficial bullshit.

How do you do that in groups of more than 3 or 4 people? I don’t know.

But I do know how to talk to introverts because I am one.

How to talk to an introvert

  1. Ask questions to better understand their interests
  2. Be an active listener
  3. Find a good setting: small groups or 1-on-1 is preferable
  4. Make the first move, they likely won’t start the conversation
  5. Learn when you need to carry the conversation vs giving them space to talk
  6. Read their body language. Are they engaging or does it look like they’d rather do anything else?

I read another guide that mentions acknowleding someone’s introvertedess but not awkwardly. Please don’t do that.

Nothing is worse than having someone try to clumsily bring up your introversion in a conversation. The times it’s happened to me have all been negative.

The best advice I can give people is to ask introverts questions. We’re pretty bad at unprompted sharing. We all have interests, hobbies, and goals.

Just ask us about them and we’ll tell you.

Learn to listen

Most introverts are great listeners because they spend the majority of their time in conversations listening. They have to be good at listening because they don’t like talking, don’t know how to talk about themselves, or they’re just shy.

I’m a great listener. I’ll listen to all your problems and complaints, ask questions, and generally be a good conversationalist. But it’s draining to do that. With a good group of friends, I do 25 to 50% of the talking and 50 to 75% of the listening. In most social settings I do about 80% listening and 20% talking. At parties, I’ll often gravitate to one person and just talk to them all night because I can actually get to know them.

Around people, even my closest friends, I feel this pressure to be talkative, funny, and interesting. Don’t take this the wrong way, I don’t pretend to be anything I’m not, but it’s a pressure I feel. I want everyone to have a good time, and I want to continue to be invited to events, even if I don’t go to every one.

Extroverts are used to doing a lot of talking, and they get energy from being social, but they’re often not great listeners. I’m speaking from my experience, but I have a ton of extroverted friends who love talking about themselves. I don’t judge them for it, I don’t really care honestly, it’s just who they are at this point. Some of these people have been my friends for over 10 years. They’re in their mid 30’s now and are unlikely to change.

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Show interest in their interests

If you find yourself talking for long stretches of time when socially engaged with an introvert, and they’re just listening and nodding their head, try asking them questions. But ask them pointed questions, not meaningless bullshit. How are you doing? is going to get the same response every time. “I’m good! how are you?”. Come on, ask me something else. I can talk your ear off about Skrillex, Tesla, why koala’s aren’t bears but are in fact marsupials.

Ok, maybe those topics aren’t interesting to you. My point is I’m happy to talk about things but you generally have to ask me first. I’m not going to volunteer information freely.

Everyone is interested in something. Introverts can have super interesting hobbies. You just have to ask them, and not make fun of them for sharing. The fastest way to get an introvert to clam up is to laugh or make fun at something they shared with you.

I’d wager that my introverted friends are more interesting than my extroverted ones. They have amazing hobbies because they don’t waste a lot of time going out and drinking with the same group of people they’ve been drinking with since college every weekend. They spend time on what is exciting and fun to them.

Some of my introverted friends stay home and play video games all the time. That’s fine too, who am I to judge? You’d be amazed how different an introverted person is in real life compared to over voice chat playing video games. Some of my friends are completely different people when I play games with them online. The same quiet and reserved introvert can be hyper-competitive, aggressive, and loud when playing games.

Engage them in smaller groups

I’m great in groups of 2-3 people. I’d even wager to say I’m downright extroverted with the right group of two other people. But any more than that and I completely fall apart because extroverts take over the entire conversation.

I’m able to hold a conversation when it’s not being dominated. Do you know that person who can talk for hours? Yeah, I avoid them at all costs. I avoid social situations where I know they’re going to be there, because I’ve been there, done that. I don’t want to sit and listen to them talk for hours.

I want to engage my friends in more intimate social situations. I want to have meaningful conversations. I want to know about how their new job is going, how they ran a marathon last weekend, or what their next upcoming vacation is.

I dread attending big company events because it’s just big groups of people standing around talking. I see these people all day every day at work, I don’t want to sit around gabbing with them about bullshit.

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If I’ve been at the company long enough I almost always skip out. I don’t need to socialize there, and there’s very little professional in-networking to be done either. I do that at more casual after-work events like happy hours

That’s it

Maybe this came off kind of complainy. That’s ok. There’s plenty of better articles on the internet about how to talk to introverts and why they are the way they are. Probably with more funny memes and gifs too.

Just try and put yourselves in the introvert’s shoes. Ask yourself what it’s like to be a naturally reserved and quiet person in a world of extroverts. Maybe that will help.

See Also

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  • Christmas in July is the worst fake holiday ever

I lead growth marketing at Magical and use this website to practice digital marketing, SEO, and showcase my favorite Notion templates.

I’m the host of Template Titans, a podcast about Notion Template Creators.

Connect with me on LinkedIn or view my contact page.

25 Things Introverts Want You to Understand About Them

We live in a culture that celebrates extroversion and sees introversion as a weakness or something to overcome.

If you’re an introvert, you may have grown up believing there was something wrong with you. You may not even have realized there’s a word for your personality type, that 26 to 50 percent of the population falls under that umbrella, and that our brains are actually wired differently than extroverts’ brains.

According to Scott Barry Kaufman, the Scientific Director of the Imagination Institute (which sounds like the coolest place in the world to work), it all boils to down to the neurotransmitter dopamine.

When our brains release dopamine, we feel more motivated to strive for external goals and rewards, like a raise or an ever-widening social circle. Though we all have the same amount of dopamine in our brains, the reward center is more active in extroverts. That’s why an extrovert might feel energized and excited anticipating a social event, while introverts might feel over-stimulated.

We introverts rely on a different neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, which makes us feel good whenever we turn inward—something we’re much better able to do in calm environments, with minimal external stimulation.

Yes, I said “we.” I’m a proud deep thinking, quiet-time needing preferrer of profound conversations over small talk. I’d rather dissect the meaning of life on a rooftop below a starry night, with one close friend by my side, than scream over loud music amid a rowdy crowd at a party or in a bar.

For years, I felt like a loser because I have fewer friendships than most and spend more time alone. But it’s not that I’m less likable than other people (or at least, I hope that’s not true). It’s just that I detest forced socialization, superficial relationships, and feeling the pressure to ‘perform’ for a group.

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While I’m beyond relieved to finally recognize my personality type isn’t a character flaw, I appreciate when the people around me understand and value my nature as well. And I know I’m not alone.

I recently asked the introverts within Tiny Buddha Facebook community what they wish people understood about them, and their responses all sounded like pieces of my own internal monologue. Below, I’ve shared a small selection of the 1,000+ comments that came in.

If you’re an introvert, this list might put into words what you’ve thought many times—from all different angles, while enjoying various solo activities. If you’re an extrovert, this will hopefully give you a little more insight into how your introverted friends feel, what they want and need, and why they do the things they do.

25 Things Introverts Wish People Understood About Them

1. I’m never lonely. I love, love, love the time I spend alone (or just with my immediate family). It feeds my soul. ~Kim Kay

2. I would rather have a deep conversation with one or two people than small chit chat with twenty-five. I value quality over quantity. ~Lyle Hatch

3. I’m not grumpy or unsociable, I just don’t know how to do small talk. Also, I’m not boring or uninteresting; you just never initiate deep conversations with me. ~Natashia Lee

4. I do not enjoy forced conversation and situations. They only make me want to retreat back to my own space. Just let me sit back to observe, and I will decide if I should join in. ~Michelle Bush West

5. I do not think I am better than you. ~Kimmie Nielsen

6. I mean what I say and only speak when I have to say something. ~Roland Laufer

7. Not wanting to hang out is not personal. I need way more down time and rest than other people may, and that doesn’t mean I’m lazy. ~Dani Hughes

8. We’re not all social butterflies; we’re more like social caterpillars. We take a while to open up. When we do, we can either be like a butterfly around you, but if things go south we’ll want to stay in the ‘wrapped up’ phase forever! ~Carole Ann Rickerd

9. Canceling plans with people less than twenty-four hours beforehand has nothing to do with them and everything to do with my self-care. ~Sahej Anand Kaur Khalsa

10. Just because I’m not all smiley and enthusiastic doesn’t mean I’m not happy. ~Brandon Logan

11. When you mention how quiet I am because I don’t talk much in large gatherings or make a big deal when I do speak, it just makes me feel self-conscious and retreat more into myself. ~Angela Eaves

12. I cannot be “on” when you want me to. There are times when I can join the conversation or party, and times when I simply cannot. ~Sabree Johnson

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13. Just because I’m an introvert doesn’t mean I’m anti-social or stuck up. It just takes me longer to recover from events and big groups of people. ~Angela Stewart

14. I deeply care and empathize with so many people in my life, even those that I don’t know personally. I can’t ‘turn it off.’ Going home is my way of avoiding overworking my emotions. It’s so I can rest up and be a good friend, colleague, employee, and citizen tomorrow. ~Jayme Taylor

15. My silence in group conversations isn’t aloofness, indifference, or lack of personality. I’d just rather get to know you one-on-one before I start revealing my thoughts and opinions. ~Amanda Perrett

16. Just because I’m not loud and don’t share my feelings with everyone in sight, it doesn’t mean that I don’t have them. Quite the opposite. I feel things very deeply. ~Liz Szentendrei

17. I’m not a flamboyant personality, but I have as much substance as the next person. ~Terrie Lynch

18. Sometimes I just want to walk in silence, but I am neither sad nor lonely. ~Debra Temple

19. Just because we keep to ourselves, or we are not talkative, does not mean we do not have an opinion or are less intelligent than others. ~Tony Solis

20. Just because I’m quiet doesn’t mean I’m upset or mad, so there’s no need to keep asking me “Are you okay?” That gets very tiring. ~Linda Burton

21. I’m not talking because I don’t have anything worthwhile to say and I’m fine with the silence. ~Amber Lockey

22. Sometimes I may act extroverted, but it’s kind of a survival skill I’ve adopted in an extroverted-centered world. Still leaves me feeling mentally exhausted and drained. And feels unnatural. ~Dalas McCown

23. If you ask a question and we don’t respond right away we are thinking through every possible response, how you might react to each response, if it is actually the truth, and then we might get distracted and eventually ponder the meaning of life … even if you just asked how we are doing. ~Michelle Cobley

24. I don’t hate people. I just save my energy for genuine interactions. ~Sharon Stewart

25. I want to be invited! I may not always go or have the ability to stay long, but it doesn’t mean I want to be entirely left out. ~Diana Rouge

Extroverts, is any of this news to you? And introverts, is there anything you’d add to the list?

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She’s also the author of Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, Tiny Buddha’s Worry Journal, and Tiny Buddha’s Inner Strength Journal and co-founder of Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. For daily wisdom, join the Tiny Buddha list here. You can also follow Tiny Buddha on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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11 Things You Should Stop Saying To Introverts


1. Why are you so quiet? Oh yeah? Well why are you always rolling around yapping your pie hole and acting like gorilla all the time. Getting asked why introverts are “so quiet” is really annoying, but it just underscores how much value people place on talking and filling up the air with meaningless sound.

2. You must not but that smart — I mean, you never say anything in class. Introverts are quiet because we don’t find value in idle conversation, talking for the sake of talking. We may not raise our hands right away, but it doesn’t mean we’re not processing ideas in our own way. We have lots to say about stuff because we are always thinking.

3. You need to get out more. Extroverts think that introversion is something that can be fixed by simply throwing yourself out there, like maybe if you had three more Appletini’s than everybody else you’ll be cured once and for all. But going out more isn’t always the answer, especially when you can enjoy a nice quiet evening at home with your books or video games or Netflix or porn or whatever it is you like to enjoy.

4. Don’t worry about her/him. She/he’s just really shy. But being shy and being an introvert aren’t the same thing. Some introverts love going out and being social, but then we need some time to ourselves to regroup and to “come down” from the experience, so to speak. Getting out more isn’t the answer. You just need to accept the fact that sometimes we feel like being out and sometimes we don’t. No explanation needed.

5. SPEAK UP. No, you lean in and listen carefully to what we are saying.

6. Are you OK? Because introverts are often quiet and drawn into our own thoughts, extroverts think that we are always mad or upset or sad about something. But we are FINE!

7. Why do you hate people so much?

8. Do you have any friends? You’re always alone.

9. Are you mad at me? This one is slippery, because people do deal with being mad at someone in a variety of ways, including not talking to them. But in general, we’re not mad or upset, unless you’re feeling guilty because you know you did something wrong.

10. You’re going home already? We just got here!

11. You are so boring. Look, people enjoy different kinds of stimulation. If you want to be friends with or date someone who you think is “boring” because their lifestyle doesn’t match yours, then you should probably try harder to understand them or compromise with them at the very least. That or find somebody who matches your constantly riveting rhythm.

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