How to Deal With an Introvert

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This is a guest post from my friend and fellow introvert Nick at stretchd.com – The Art of Challenge. He writes about using challenge as a personal development tool.

This is part one of a two part series about dealing with the introvert or extrovert in your life.

For the extrovert…

You love going out all the time. You love talking about the latest reality television show. You love to gossip about the popular girl down the hall, you know who I’m talking about, the one with all guys drooling over her.

You just gotta know everyone’s business.

Before you start calling me a bastard behind my back…

I know this is just a generalization and my intention is not to attack you. For the sake of this post I think it’s important to illustrate the contrast of the introvert compared to an extrovert.

That said, how do you deal with the person who does not respond to all of your good-time, free-flowing, high-level energy? Or doesn’t want to get into the National Enquirer type conversations

How does an extrovert deal with an introvert?

The first things first, recognize that their personalty traits are not abnormal. Just like your outgoing nature isn’t unnatural to you.

If you think you are going to pull them out of their shell and fix them, you are wrong.

They don’t need to be fixed. Would you try to fix a car that was working perfectly fine? I guess you would if you were a crooked auto repair shop.

Don’t be that.

There is nothing more disrespectful than a blatant attempt to change someones personality. By even attempting this, you will just alienate a potential friend. You should know that the introvert probably thinks of you as shallow and not terribly intelligent.

The introvert sees your extrovert personality as a mask, a phoniness, and because of the amount of your extraneous chitter-chatter, probably doesn’t trust you.

If you talk smack about every one else why wouldn’t you do the same about them?

In order to deal with the introvert, you will need to prove them wrong. By lowering your energy level, showing a genuine interest in the introvert (not the obvious fake stuff), and making it very clear that you are not attempting to change them, a level of trust may begin to form.

You must also keep in mind that the introvert simply does not need you. They don’t need your attention, your flattery, or your social connections. They are quite happy in their introverted world. Remember, they don’t get energized by being the life of the party like you do.

As an extrovert, that may seem hard to understand, but it is true. In fact, you may need them more than they need you…imagine that.

Dealing with an introvert takes patience, kindness, and an understanding that people are different. In the words of D.H. Lawrence, “One man isn’t any better than another, not because they are equal, but because they are intrinsically other, that there is no term of comparison.”

What is something that you wish the extroverts in your life knew about introverts?

Forward this post to any extroverts that you think need a little education.

Stay tuned for part 2

-How to deal with an introvert

Photo credit: Ed Yourdon

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34 Comments

  1. I’m introverted, and have enjoyed the posts on this website. They’ve made me think about my behaviour a bit more as well as the behaviour of others.

    While I like the intent of this post, I feel that it is rather aggressive and makes a lot of assumptions about what an extroverted person really thinks. It also prescribes behaviour, e.g., the extrovert must do this. The idea of forwarding it to someone “you think need[s] a little education”: only if there was an extrovert I wanted out of my life.

    If someone asked for some feedback/advice on introversion, then I would be looking for something that explains how introverted people behave, why that is, and what they prefer, e.g., “By lowering your energy level” -> “Introverted people engage best with people at a lower energy level”. Explaining what one would like assertively and without judgement on the other person will go a long way to finding common ground and moving on from an “us and them” mentality.

    Keep up the good work — I look forward to future posts!

    • Hi Nicole, thanks for the feedback. I agree with you about the aggressive nature of this post. I actually did that intentionally to help illustrate the contrast of the personalities.

      With all the possible variations of introvert/extrovert personalities and also trying to keep this from going on and on, making assumptions becomes a necessary evil.

      Thanks again for the comments, it’s always refreshing to get a different perspective on how my writing is being perceived by others.

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  3. Extroverts are more popular compared with introverts and it is better to accept the behaviors of each individual as they are rather than try and change unless it is really needed.

  4. Love this post, and I didn’t find it agressive at all. I found it spot on, generally, especially… “You must also keep in mind that the introvert simply does not need you. They don’t need your attention, your flattery, or your social connections. They are quite happy in their introverted world. Remember, they don’t get energized by being the life of the party like you do” Can’t wait to read part 2.

    • Thanks for the feedback, different people will perceive it from their own perceptive. That’s just human nature regardless if they are an introvert or an extrovert.

      I’m working on part two but this time I won;t be too quick to hit the publish button.
      Nick Laborde´s last post ..The Introvert Challenge

  5. We should understand that people have different personalities and we should consider the fact that you will never be them and the same with them they can never be you. If they are introvert then let them be who they are, not trying to change them and just accepting them for who they are will make a big difference in their own lives.

  6. Nick,
    I too found it too aggressive. I know you did it on purpose but to what end? Hitting someone over the head will get their attention, but not in a way that you can do anything with.

    I really liked the quote. I’d never heard it before.

    • After reading it again, it did come off more aggressive than I intended. I do agree that hitting someone over the head will get there attention but that attention will be short lived. Not only that, but they will be less receptive to what you have to say.

      I also believe that sometimes you have to go straight to the point to get idea across. Sometimes (Like this post) that directness can be perceived as negative. After the feedback I received and reading it from a different perspective I can see why.

      I greatly appreciate the feedback and will certainly be more conscious of what I am writing. It’s this feedback that makes us better writers because it is easy to get caught up in our own worlds. I believe us introverts can certainly relate to that.
      Nick Laborde´s last post ..The Introvert Challenge

  7. Iam not wishing anything about the extroverts in my life to knew about introverts. Many of those see Introverts as a problem. They use to say, one should not be like this… Have to socialize with all people.
    I don’t interfere in other’s business and i don’t like anyone interfering in mine. I don’t have any problems with any of those because iam a strong Introvert. I appear as silent, but if anyone makes fun of me directly….I will talk..I will shut their mouth. I never had any problem like that. I always do what i want.

    Some of the sentences in this post which are true and i liked are :

    Before you start calling me a bastard behind my back……. ( Some Extroverts do this..talking behind our back )

    If you think you are going to pull them out of their shell and fix them, you are wrong. ( Many Extroverts do this..They think Introverts should become social. They think all human beings should be social )

    They don’t need to be fixed. Would you try to fix a car that was working perfectly fine? I guess you would if you were a crooked auto repair shop. ( Well said )
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  8. I feel there are probably only a couple of places/phrases that sound a bit aggressive, but the rest of the post is spot on. You conveyed what you needed to, very well.

    I like, and cannot agree more with this statement “There is nothing more disrespectful than a blatant attempt to change someones personality.” That is true for everyone, introvert and extrovert – all it asks for is understanding the next person.

    I think agree with your assessment that an extrovert may need an introvert more than the other way round, but what an extrovert would like even better (than an introvert) is another extrovert, perhaps? Just thinking out loud.

    Good writing, Thanks for your thoughts.

  9. I admit that I am quite introvert.It is interesting to read about how does an extrovert deal with an introvert..I must say that I like your thinking.I believe that to be more extrovert may reflect yourself in wrong way.People can get this in wrong way.

  10. This is a good post, if for no other reason than to give people a perspective. Obviously you cannot fit introverts into a ‘one size fits all’ category. The same goes for extroverts. The degree of each of these behavioral traits in everyone is different.

    The depth of the personal relationship with an individual should dictate how you deal with them. If you are close you understand that you do not try to change each other. You embrace the differences and give each other balance.

    On the other hand if you are not close you should still respect the differences in each other. Neither trait is either right or wrong. People are either judgmental of others or they aren’t.
    JamesZachery´s last post ..Camcorder Myths Dispelled By Truths

  11. Being an introvert is not abnormal by any degree, it’s a completely natural way of being. Why do some people assume that introverts are not happy? That’s not the case at all. I am an introvert and I love being in my space. Thanks for this article, it’s really good.

  12. I think i am 50% introvert but it depends of who are the people around me because i could be very extrovert with a friend. People should never try to change the personality of the other but accept it as it is, the differents personalities in this world make every ones unique.

  13. OneCharmingDiva on

    Being somewhat introverted, I appreciat your stance. Too many times introverts get judged wrongly, (ie crazy, strange, arrogant) when in all actuality they are wrong. I choose a book over gossip & that makes me strange? Wow! Why not learn to be accepting & not be afraid of the “unknown”.

  14. I’m an introvert myself, but am also the mother of my introverted 13-year-old teen daughter. Being one myself I can understand her in many ways, possibly better than my own mom, who is a very outgoing person, managed to understand me when I was 13. However I have a fine feeling that I’m not as equipped to dealing with her misbehaviour as my mom was when dealing with mine. As such, my daughter hides behind incredible emotional cataclysms, talks about suicide when I tell her to pick up her clothes, and doesn’t seem to want to participate in anything positive we do as a family (and because I’m an introvert there isn’t even that much we do together in the first place!).

    She’s not the only drama queen in the family, but because my younger daughter is very extroverted, the drama is obvious. But how does one deal with a teen who refuses to participate in the good stuff and gets overdramatic with the bad stuff? I feel as though she’s deliberately trying to lay a guilt trip on me – and succeeding! The drive is to make me feel like a bad mother.

    I would appreciate some help from an experienced parent here…

  15. I am havig a difficult time with my introverted in-laws. My husband is a quiet person who tends to be on the introvert side yet he is not socially awkward (by that I mean he says hello and takes an interest in new people although he may not talk much). In oher words, he looks people in the eye , smiles and shows interest. Hisbrother, sister and mother are extreme introverts to the extent that they don’t say hello (in their own house) look people in the eye or show any interest in “hew people” although I’ve been married to their brother for 3 years now, I guess I’m still “new people”. I am hurt at not being acknowleged when I go to their house and don’t relly know what to do to draw them out. I am a social person but not loud or aggressive.

  16. I am an extrovert and I sincerely do not think anything negative about Introverts, I understand that we are just different types of people and equal in our abilities. I have a very close friend who is an introvert and we get along just fine.
    However, I need help in understanding how introverts validate their positions on various topics, ranging from science to politics to art by their peers or other people. My experience has been that usually (not necessarily always) introverts are not very interested in engaging in public debates or participate in general intellectual discourse in an open setting. This is perfectly ok, they don’t have to; but I am not sure how this attitude eventually does not lead to “I know what I like and I like what I know” kind of mentality?
    To be sure, I am not trying to criticize anybody; I am really trying to understand better how introverts engage or prefer to engage in a healthy dialogue. Any feedback is very welcome.

  17. I am being depressed lately that I do not know how to deal with my husband, I am a really extroverted person and I never thought any person can be like that as he is. I really thought there is something wrong with him, because if I ask him what is wrong or if I can help him with anything and keeps bugging him, he gets more grumpy and I get really nasty words from him. I guess I have never had a friend who is an introvert or have ever been close with an introvert before. As I kept researching on the internet, the solution is really simple, “leave them alone.” But then again I can’t help but to feel depressed sometimes about his ramblings, even if I have been really nice to him. I think he is burnt out and depressed because he has two jobs works 6 days a week 12 hour shift in a job he doesn’t like. I didn’t force him to get two jobs at all, it was his idea for we had financial problems because of his gambling problems before. Don’t get me wrong I work too 40 hrs a week, we have a toddler, and I do everything at home, cook everyday, laundry our clothes, clean up, wash dishes, deal with other things like talk to people for our bills etc…when he gets home I massage him, give a foot rub..but lately all he do is complain. He wants me to leave him alone, because nothing I do can make him happy. Even he treats me like this, I still need him and it makes me depressed as I can not eat anymore. Today is his birthday and I planned a surprise party, but I am scared he may get mad at me for doing this. I don’t want to tell my parents my problems so I am dealing with this alone most of the times. I am in the point of breaking down and maybe I just don’t understand this kind of personality. Please enlighten me, I know he is happy with just by himself, while I like to have his company. He pushes me away, but I know he loves me…I just think he is an introvert and I never understood it before and I tried to change him because I thought something is wrong with him, now he is resentful of me. I want him not to, and only now that I understand how introverted people are. Thank you for all the information. I am sorry for my disrespectful action to try to change a person, it was because I was ignorant and I just didn’t know there are people like this. I guess I was always hanging out with extroverted people, and now I have married an introvert whom I love so much and I want to understand him for the sake of my love for him and our son…..:(((((

  18. Hi I met my husband in my working place, (we worked for the same company) fell in love and proposed him. After taking 2 days time he also said he also loved me. I was soooooooooooooooo happy because I really loved him for no reason. When I enquired about his family, he said he had no parents but had one sister who lived in India with her family. If I asked more about he cried and cried, so I left him without any more nagging questions. I did ask him few times and he never gave satisfactory answers. I asked who helped him to study, he said “some uncle” and when I wanted to know where that uncle lived, he said he had no contacts with him then. But my love was so strong that I was not wise enough to identify the mask he was wearing.
    When we married we planned to move off to USA and I wrote all the necessary exams and he was there to support. but suddenly one fine day when the last paper for the visa processing needed all about his family, he said he would fill and give me. But he did not send it at all. Evenafter asking repeatedly, he never sent it and its still pending and now it is 6yrs.
    Now he treats me like a slave. He does not want me to study more or work or have friends of my own interests. He gives me little money and wants me to manage family with that amount…….does not share anything, doesnt have any interest in sexual life…..can I divorce him? I have 2 girl children, 8yrs and 6yrs old. Few properties are in my name and few in his name. Pls advise.

  19. I don’t think I found this aggressive, but mostly condescending. Also, while I would never try to make an introvert come out of his/her shell, and while I definitely agree that there’s nothing wrong with being quiet and not needing the social energy that extroverts need, I do think that telling extroverts to lower their energy level is just as personality-undermining. With that being said, I do feel like the article raised a lot of good points about how introverts are fine the way they are and don’t need “fixing.”

  20. I am an introvert and find dealing with more than one person a complete energy zapper – in person on the web, it does not matter.
    I find I have a “work face” – but do not discuss trivial stuff such as tv programs that are reality shows and things like shopping. I am there to work not deal with people who think its and extension of high school !
    I found this article great and put it on my Facebook page as a few extroverts want my attention Every Time I Log On – I have told them its taxing and they do not get it

  21. Admiring the persistence you put into your website and
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  22. my house mate is super introverted and i get really annoyed because he cannot respond to simple questions or conversations i try to have with him.. its so hard to live with.

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