How to deal people who cannot stand introverts

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Dear IntrovertZone,

At work and at school (about two years ago for school) I found that my being an introvert was very offensive to others. I would hear comments and remarks that were usually on the angry side. Most being along the lines of : ” She doesn’t want to talk to any one!” or ” She is a snob”.

What can I do to either educate people that I am an introvert and what that means or extend the olive branch so to speak?

Or should I just grow a thick skin? 🙂

Thanks!

Photo credit: rasdourian

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38 Comments

  1. There are people who could understand and people who couldn’t of our behaviors. And for those who couldn’t, well, especially in schools where students are not that much aware about introvert people, I think, the best way to educate them is to have programs or guidance counseling for them. Many guidance counselors have fliers which can absolutely educate those who are unaware.

  2. I can relate. I have never understood why keeping to yourself makes people so upset. You definitely need a thick skin, but what I have used on people when they make remarks to my face is to make a remark (as nicely as I can) that the same people who complain about my not talking don’t make much of an effort to speak with me either, and that if they want so badly to befriend me that they would complain about me, then they also have the responsibility to at least attempt to converse with me, instead of feeling like I am supposed to come to THEM. I also would advise (if you are interested enough in these people and their opinion to want to be seen in a “better” light) that when someone does make conversation, to try and contribute some. Ask a question or two, make random comments. The things that we usually see as pointless. But just know that some people are going to not like your personality no matter what explanation you give them ( i for one am not big on explanations to people i am not close to).

    • I can totally relate to the part about people not making any effort to talk to you, and then complaining that you don’t talk. It’s not everyone of course, but when that many people take that attitude “She’s quiet so I’m not going to talk to her”, then what that effectively does is put the onus squarely on you…to be the one to always have to start a conversation, if there’s going to be one. I guess it’s just because our being “quiet” makes some people uncomfortable, but they definitely fail to see what that’s like from our point of view.

    • I never understood why being quiet offended anyone either.
      Especially when there are so many talkers out there knowingly saying hurtful things and seeming to like it.

  3. I don’t mind being taken for a snob. It often makes you more attractive to others, in a way. They think you have an extra little something that they don’t have, they feel a little jealous. They are deterred from approaching you with friendly overtures — but isn’t that desirable if you’re a true introvert?

    • Interesting way to look at it 🙂 I never thought of it that way but I can totally see what you’re saying. And really, isn’t it true that us introverts DO have an extra little something that others don’t anyway? 🙂

  4. A lot of these people aren’t going to matter to you in a few years. It made sound harsh, but that’s how I started looking at life. Who cares what some non-introvert thinks? Is it someone you would even want to form a friendship with anyway? Look at it in those terms. I think I was pretty lucky growing up in a small town where everyone knew each other because I didn’t get too much grief about being an introvert until I went to college. Then after that, the workplace was even worse. I finally just had to get a thick skin and ignore people’s comments. In the end, it really doesn’t matter because people who don’t know you well will find something to criticize you for if they’re insecure or unhappy in their own lives. If you get wrapped up in what other people think of you, you’ll be very unhappy. I think the saying, “Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter” applies to your question.

  5. You might as well start growing that thick skin. You’ll meet some people who can understand your introversion, if you explain it very carefully so they don’t hear it as, “You annoy me so go away.” But most people won’t be able to understand, no matter how you present it. For them, you’ll need the thick skin, and you may want to develop some basic social skills.

    For instance, it took me about 40 years to learn to say, “Fine, how are you?” When I was younger and people asked me how I was doing, I just said, “Fine.” I didn’t ask in return because as an introvert I don’t care how they’re doing in that superficial sense, and introverts hate superficial chatter. When I learned to add those three meaningless words, it made my interactions with extroverts go more smoothly. The funny thing is that most of the time I can tell they don’t really hear my answer or think about theirs; that’s not the point. For them, the chatter seems to set the rhythm for communication, so the sounds matter more than the content.

    That doesn’t mean you have to become a social butterfly or act like someone you’re not. But learning to use some basic pleasantries, even something as inane (to an introvert) as commenting on the weather, can make extroverts much more comfortable around you, while still allowing you to be quiet most of the time.
    Aaron B.´s last post ..Video Tours of Poppe’s

    • Aaron, I so agree with you . As I’m reading your words, I’m chuckling to myself. Until the last few weeks when I have begun to read more about introvert behaviour, I thought I was the only one who felt/responded in this way. Most of the time it doesn’t occur to me to respond to these kinds of pleasantries. I have to work really hard at remembering to reciprocate with, “What about you… how are things going? As you said though, it does seem to satisfy people’s need for superficial chatter and I’ve developed several strategies that allow me to escape when I’ve had enough of listening to them 🙂
      trish´s last post ..5 Key Tips to keeping your online presence secure

    • Aaron, I can totally relate to what you’re saying as well. I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I think maybe it’s because since the superficial chatter is by definition, insincere, we have trouble with it. We don’t really care how some stranger behind a counter in a store is doing (any more than they care how we’re doing when they ask us the question) so it seems insincere (to us) to even ask, but to extroverts, if you don’t engage in this kind of thing, you’re not being “polite”. Another one that comes to mind is “Have a great day!” Really, I’ve learned to just reciprocate with “Thanks, you too!” but what I’m really thinking is, “What do you care? We’re not going to give each other a second thought after this and we’ll probably never see each other again, so it seems ridiculous to me to tell a total stranger to “Have a great day!”, but it seems to be the way of the (extrovert) world that we as introverts must go along with, if only to make our own lives and interactions with people, a little easier 🙂

    • You make it sound like a disease, Tina. Introversion is just a personality type. Yes, it can cause those who have that type of personality to suffer in certain ways, but being introverted in and of itself is not to suffer! I cherish the fact that I am introverted, and therefore much more in tune with myself than a lot of people are. I know myself, I know my likes and dislikes, and I feel quite fulfilled intellectually and spiritually because I reflect on things in a very deep way.

  6. Growing a thick skin would be advisable since there are a lot of people in this world who doesn’t really understand or are not even aware that introverts exists in this world! Just be yourself and don’t worry about the others because they are not the one who’s feeding you 🙂

  7. In my mind it would take a long time before MOST people can really grasp this idea of introversion.

    But take my advice, wherever I go I must get to know people in small doses. And what I found out is, extrovert, sometimes you wonder if they ever had trouble. The thing that I learnt is, there’s more things that you don’t know about them that (more often than not) will shock you later on once you know.

    Basically, being an extrovert, an unhealthy one you feel the need to control people or the environment. The more unhealthier the extrovert the more tendency they have to do this, (but it depends on which MBTI type too). I observe this throughout my college years. Why? Because inside their head things seems uncontrollable. Introvert, like me on the other hand, find things inside my head to be “stable” and anything external sometimes irritating.

    But there’s a huge difference between “knowing” and “not knowing”. It can give a peace of mind, perspective and better decision to act, giving a better outcome in the long run. One failure doesn’t mean anything. But to stand up after that, means everything for your whole life.

    • I wish it is that easy.

      I dunno, I mean… It’s frustrating too that you’re holding back some of the truths inside just because you get to figure out real quick inside your head, “hey, why bother explaining anyway? They don’t care of you as much as they care of themselves.”

      Still, I have very few friend that’s extroverted who happen to understand this… although they happen to only understand like the brink of an iceberg it still feels good, like a relief. Others, like acquaintance, I rather let them wonder sometimes whenever I look dazed or seeming absent-minded. Or sometimes cold even, complete silent.

      It’s painful because it’s frustrating to be misunderstood. It’s even more frustrating to try to explain but end up not listened to or people can’t understand one bit what you’re saying. True, that life has challenge that everyone MUST face. But I rather face other hardship that doesn’t involve *this* kind of HUGE misunderstanding some people have. People that you don’t want to see on a daily basis but you must face anyway.

      In the moment, I guess thick skin aren’t so bad when you know what’s REALLY going on. Bad facts are simply biased personal opinions, it’s still bad even if the majority believes in it.

  8. Everyone is different or the world would be really boring. I think everyone should just live their own life as best they can and not worry about what others think as long as you are not doing something to hurt other people

  9. As others before me have said it’s a good idea to grow a thick skin. I was two years out of high school before someone (who had been in my same class but had never really talked to me) told me that she had avoided me because she thought I was intimidating. And as an introvert, that label tends to come up just as often as snob.

    Extroverts don’t understand us, and will never fully be able to grasp our nature, so they attempt to explain our behavior in ways that make sense to them. And since they don’t understand why we, as introverts, usually prefer to avoid pleasantries and awkward conversations with people we don’t know, they tend to assume that we’re just not interested in them. It can be a little annoying and sometimes even offensive. The last thing I am is a snob and I think that’s true of most introverted people. But unfortunately it’s just a part of being an introvert.

    The good news is that I’ve found that some people- not all of them but some- tend to come around eventually. They’ll get the opportunity to see you for who you really are and their opinions will change. So try to be yourself and don’t let it get to you. If you’re determined to actively change their minds then it’s pretty simple: say “hi, how are you” when you see them. It doesn’t take much more than that.

    Anyway, good luck and just remember you have a pretty good support non-group of introverted individuals here. 😉

  10. Great insight.

    It’s all true, it’s not about the destination that matter but the journey.

    Thanks. 😉

  11. I have found in my experience that most people don’t WANT to understand people with personalities like ours. I dealt with those type of comments all throughout my high school years, and it was very painful. Remember, only 25% of the population are introverts, which means 75% are extroverts. That means 75% of the people you will deal with in your life are most likely not going to understand you! That is sad to think about. BUT…don’t let those people ruin you. SEEK OUT the other 25%!! I feel I have always been able to “tune in” to those others who are similiar to myself, and feel very lucky to have made a few friends because of that intuition. Not everyone is out to get you, even though it may feel that way sometimes! (and believe me, I feel that way often). It has taken me many years to realize that. The best thing I can say is, IGNORE those people who make those type of comments and move on. I struggle with it on a daily basis and constantly have to remind myself there is nothing wrong with me. Best of luck to you.

  12. I can understand your puzzlement completely. I am male, 54, and a lifelong introvert. I was bullied at school and so learned to be happily self-contained and not bother with other people and their nonsense.
    In my adult life, I found that the same people who bullied me decided that I was a snob because I had no need to socialise with them. But why would I? Only an idiot gets burned and keeps sticking his hand in the fire.
    People struggling to come to terms with their introversion will discover that non-introverts apply a range of weird and wonderful self-justifying rules to try to explain or criticise our behaviour.
    Just be happy that you don’t have to bother with them if you don’t want to. It’s their problem, not yours. You don’t have a disease or a mental illness. You’re just someone who is self-contained. It takes courage sometimes, as you are finding, not to believe what others have decided is “wrong” with you.
    Just smile to yourself and be happy.

  13. I am sure glad that I found this website. I am so tired of people thinking that I am wasting my time and wanting me to account for how I spend time. I just tell them in a tired way that walking the dogs, doing laundry, grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning takes up so much time. But I don’t share the glorious time I enjoy relaxing on my screened porch, reading wonderful books, watching the science or discovery channel, sometimes book TV, listening to NPR, going to the park. I am one of the few people walking without devises in my ears. I am going to work on feeling okay. I am tired of feeling like I have to justify myself to the world. This web site is making me feel more normal, now that I know there are more people like me, who get crazy about the same things! My entire family are extroverts so I grew up feeling really out of place.

  14. introverts are highly misunderstood. Just because a person can’t open up in front of others doesn’t means they are a dumbo. In fact in many cases introvert people have excelled like music, sport, art. Here you can just let your talent and hard work do the talking.

  15. A great thing to watch to showcase how introverts and the like are treated by the extraverted majority in power, is the Star Trek: Voyager episode Pathfinder. Heck, watch ALL episodes of Star Trek starring Dwight Schultz as Reginald Barclay; it’s a sad thing to see that even in the 24th century (where supposedly all forms of discrimination have been eliminated), if you are “weird” you will be treated as a second-class citizen, will never be respected, will be judged because you are more interested in problem-solving and thinking rather than small-talking and other irrelevancy… EVEN WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING!

  16. What’s frustrating me the most is, being either extrovert or an introvert doesn’t really makes your life easier. I’m an introvert but it doesn’t take much of intelligence to know this.

    At the end of the day I can only split – between people who understand me more or lesser, regardless they’re innies or exies, people who are less judgmental or more, and people who are nicer or have some personal problems themselves (think it’s “cool” to be *bad* and saying nasty things. Though I can see where they come from that way) and people who are more compromising or rather provoking.

    So you’d try to avoid the latter and stick to those who tended to the first among each. Then when I’m all by myself I try to remind myself “hey this is normal, it’s healthy, I need it like WATER”. I must have this kind of monologue constantly or I can “lose” it somehow later on. It’s a constant battle but it’s important to tell the right thing to yourself always, consciously.

  17. Just found this blog. Love it. Have a new co-worker who is an introvert, like me. My supervisor is already talking about how this girl won’t last long, she’s not good-natured, etc. She’s FINE! The supervisor is the problem here. new girl works all day, hard. Super gripes, cold shoulders, etc. I’m trying to help out new girl by speaking up for her, I even told her to come with me–everyone was sharing bagels and I don’t like to go sit there, but told her we’d better go put in some face time. It’s a tough spot, being sabotaged by someone who doesn’t even know you.

  18. It is so awful to be wrongly judged just because of a simple misunderstanding about different personality types. It could so easily be rectified with a little education for everyone on introversion/extroversion. I am trying to spread the message in my own small way. I have printed some things off from the internet about introversion/extroversion to make into a little booklet to give to some of my co-workers to try to explain to them that it’s not a personal thing when I don’t interact very much. Ideally, I would love to give it to everyone I meet, but as this isn’t possible this is the best I can do to help myself, as obviously work is where I spend the majority of my life. All I want is for my colleagues to understand that I don’t dislike them and that I’m not a snob etc, and that there are many, many other introverts out there who are suffering in the same way. I just want them to realise that eight hours of interaction a day is completely exhausting for an introvert. It’s like being at an eight hour party, and we introverts know how hard it can be to even be at an actual party for even half an hour/an hour! I work to live not live to work, but I’m not getting much chance to ‘live’ outside of work, as my work life sucks out all of the already very limited energy that I have. I think that all extroverts should be made to be completely silent for one whole working week. This would drain them just as much as constant interaction does for us introverts. Maybe then there would be more understanding and compassion for introverts.

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