Introvert: Hold a moment while I’m processing…

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I saw this bumper sticker on Zazzle a few weeks ago, and it caught my eye because it mentions one of our traits that many people don’t know about.    Many of us take a bit longer to think before we speak than extroverts do.   Oh we can come up with words just fine when we’re writing or typing, but although we might be able to visualize exactly what is on our minds, we have a tiny delay while the correct words make it all the way to our mouths.  Some of this is that we want to think our answer through before we speak, of course, but there’s sometimes also a definite word-retrieval delay too.

In one section of her book The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World, Dr. Marti Olsen Laney talks about studies on the differences in introverts’ and extroverts’ brains, including what pathways in the brain have the most blood flow in introverts vs. extroverts and what neurotransmitters are used in the dominant pathway of each type’s brain.  She mentions that we often do have trouble with  word retrieval when speaking, because apparently we introverts are reaching into long-term memory for the words we want.  And the reason we may have trouble with verbalizing our thoughts but not with writing or typing is that we are calling upon different parts of the brain for those activities.  Well, so much for saying that someone should just snap out of being an introvert!   This book is copyright 2002, so I will keep an eye out for any newer research that can shed even more light on differences between introverts and extroverts.

In my own speaking, I’ve noticed that I converse in a rhythm that’s just as fast as everyone else’s when I’m talking to my friends and family about everyday things.  I guess that’s because the thoughts are probably not too complex, plus I am totally relaxed with them.  But add even a tiny bit of nervousness with unfamiliar people, and I may start to feel more like I’m floundering for the words I want.   My sister has noticed that sometimes she’ll ask her husband something that requires thought and he will be totally silent until his complete answer finally comes to his lips.   🙂     I haven’t tried just waiting, like that myself, …..buffering…..   but instead I’ll usually get started with as many words as I can come up with on the spot, occasionally having to really search for a technical term I don’t use much or worse still, someone’s name. I try to make a lot of eye contact while I’m actually speaking, so that when I do have a millisecond (or maybe more) delay in there they’ll know I’m actively answering and not give up on me. 🙂

Of course we’ve all come away from meetings, job interviews, and other important times with that feeling of, “NOW I know exactly what I should have said,” or sometimes those golden thoughts even appear overnight. That happens to me a lot. I’m still not batting 1000 on this, but here are some things that have helped me to make sure I convey my thoughts to others when it matters.

1) Practice. If I know I’m having a job interview, then as totally non-fun as it is, I’ll make myself answer some of those open-ended questions out loud. “Tell me about a time when you….” or “Why do you want to work for XYZ Company?” Having to retrieve all those things I really know and just have buried deep in this brain somewhere often makes it where it’s easier to retrieve when I actually need it on the spot. I may not guess the questions I’ll be asked, but I can usually use some of those bits and pieces for the questions I do get. Likewise for a meeting, I prepare ahead of time by writing a list of things I’ve been working on, questions I have, points to raise, etc. Writing or typing lets me easily retrieve what I’ll want to say, then I can refer to those notes in the meeting when it’s my turn to talk.  The bottom line is, know your stuff.   It’s totally worth spending a little time doing the homework before an important meeting so that the words will come more easily to you.

2) Follow up with email. I’ve done this after talking to bosses, after job interviews, and after meetings. That wonderful thought that I wish I’d said – I just write it up nicely and send it in an email as “an additional thought” or question. I may never really shine when it comes to “thinking on my feet,” but I can write a fine email, and I’ll bet you can too! 🙂

3) Relax.   A few times lately I’ve had a big boss come and ask me for something, and instead of  fighting to find the words quickly, I have consciously relaxed just a bit.   I tell myself that after all, I know my stuff!  That’s why he’s asking me!   Once I relax, I usually can do a lot better toward wording things the way I want to.   One introvert I work with speaks very slowly and deliberately when he is asked his opinion in a meeting.   I think the slow tempo gives him an extra few seconds to think, and the fact that he knows his stuff so well means that everyone else stays quiet until he gets to the punch line.

Wouldn’t it be great if the whole world knew about and accepted this thinking time we need before we speak?   Do you have any tips or tricks to share with us on how you manage to get your thoughts verbalized?

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58 Comments

  1. I can definitely relate to this. At some point, I realized that I’m just not good at thinking on my feet. If someone asks me a question out of the blue, I get startled and I don’t know what to say, because I haven’t had any time to prepare an answer to the question. Instead, I’m just expected to say something quickly in order to satisfy the other person. I’ve also had experiences in which someone has called me concerning a job that I have applied for, and it’s usually a call that I am not expecting, so when I answer the phone, and the person explains why they are calling, I get nervous because, once again, I’ve had no time to think and prepare for any questions the person may ask. Sometimes, they’ll ask me if and when I would be interested in having an interview, and my mind freezes as to what day and time I will be available. It’s embarrassing.

    Sometimes, I think about past arguments that I’ve had, and the fact that there were so many good, valid points I could have made to essentially “win” the argument, but because of my delayed response time, I walked away from those arguments feeling like I didn’t get my points across, and the other person succeeded in verbally beating me down, specially when I am dealing with an extrovert who is verbally gifted.

    I do feel comfortable communicating with most of my immediate family, though. I don’t have a problem saying exactly what I want to say to my boyfriend and my daughter. As you mentioned, part of the reason is because people feel relaxed or usually feel relaxed around family members and friends. But there have been times when I have been nervous around my mother, because she can be intimidating, and also she and I have always had a somewhat strained relationship. There were occasions when I was completely tongue tied when talking to her, simply because she expects everyone to just understand things quickly, without taking much time to think things through. She doesn’t have much patience.

    I’m definitely good at communicating in writing. And I feel much better with emails and written communication, since it allows me time to think about what I want to say and how I want to respond. When I write an email, I take as much time as I need before sending it.

    I’ve gotten to the point now where I will stop to think things through before making a comment or answering a question. I’ve realized that it’s something that I NEED TO DO.

    • JW – so true. The written stuff is so much easier for us, but that is great that you’re stopping and thinking when you need to think what to say. If we can wait while other people “think by talking,” then I think they can wait while we think silently for a second!

  2. Good suggestions especially the relaxing part. I’ve observed and went through this myself that introverts are more likely to get caught up in the possibility of something than what actually is going to happen.

    When my words aren’t coming to me, I squint and freeze until I get the right word. Don’t know why I do that! 🙂

    • Thanks Miyuki!

      Oh I know what you mean. I forgot where exactly I look for the answers – up, to the left.. not sure. But I know I’m looking somewhere with my eyes while I really am trying to retrieve something from my brain!

  3. I can really really relate to the comments made about being verbally battered in arguments you should have won! haha. Also, getting phone calls for jobs I applied for is another one that I can sooo agree with. Unless I apply for one job at a time and can prepare for calls from that one company , I am always at a loss for words.

    I think that with office/work scenarios it is possible, with clever planning and foresight, to manage our issues. My main issues are socially. I’m just awkward, not knowing how to answer lot’s of questions that are thrown at me. When I DO get to know someone I just cannot maintain their friendship as I need so much alone time. As hard as I try I just cannot keep in regular contact with people, and after years and years of this I reached a point (some time ago) where barely see a point in trying to make friends.

    Whilst I am at peace with needing my ‘recharging’ alone time, I get so jealous of people with who appear to always be doing something fun with their many many friends.

    • Haha I’m the same way, I have lots of aquiantances, but very few close friends. The ones that I do have we “get each other” to the point where we never really call each other but we text a lot. Sometimes I do envy the social butterfies, but when I think about it it doesn’t really matter because these people in a millions years will never get me. I got better things to consentrate my engergy on like the people the matter.

      I suck at work situations, but these techniques definately will help me in future job interview and so forth. I need to learn to relax and stay silent to process.

    • Hi Kryzlow. It is nice for us introverts to have a few friends, and it’s great if those friends understand we just don’t want to get together in person as much as some people would. If your friends would cooperate a little and send you emails instead of phone calls, etc., it would help.

      I know what you mean – sometimes my sister will tell me about having a large group over to her house for dinner (she lives in a different city), and I’ll think oh that sounds like fun… I’m missing all the fun.. etc. But once I really put myself into her spot I am SO glad that’s not me. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment, and please keep coming back to Introvert Zone!

  4. Kryzlow, I’ve found the best of both worlds when it comes to friends. I have many many friends but I rarely see any of them. They live all around the country, and most often we converse via email. There is one person I enjoy long phone chats with, but for the most part, I’m not a phone person. I have strong connections to these people and we often have very meaningful conversations. They know me better than my own family does. But there just isn’t a place in my life for tons of people who want to go out to dinner, etc., not that doing so isn’t fun sometimes. I just don’t have the energy for a lot of face-to-face interactions, unless it’s with someone I really enjoy being with.

    On the word-delay thing…at work, I got scolded by my boss for sending emails, when he thought I should pick up the phone and call instead. There are times when a call is necessary, but I communicate so much better in writing that forcing me to use the phone instead feels like making me write with my left hand when my right does just fine.

    • Bella that does sound great – lots of friends to talk to, to care about, but not a lot of ’em to expect face to face time too often.

      I totally agree about the phone. I remember when I worked for a very sweet guy who was an extrovert. Sometimes he’d tell me, “Call Bill down at ….. and ask him…” and I would wonder after he’d left, ‘Did he LITERALLY mean I need to CALL, or could I get by with an email..?’ 🙂

  5. I have noticed that I am way more comfortable around friends and family than strangers. When in a room full of strangers I am usually the one by myself who looks most uncomfortable.

    I will speak when spoken to, but I do have the tendency to blurt something out when in a group, even when someone else is talking. I know it’s rude but can’t stop myself, probably because I’m worried that I will forget what I am going to say or lose my train of thought.

    I’ve also noticed that I’m usually looking for the right word or group of words, and sometimes the harder I try to think of it the worse it is. That could be another reason why I blurt things out.
    .-= Sire´s last blog ..Shocking October Stats Not So Shocking =-.

    • Sire, that makes sense re the blurting things out.. Sometimes we’re concentrating so hard on finding the words that we can’t also notice if it’s still a good time to say something or if someone else has started talking.

      Definitely when I try to come up with a word, and names are the WORST, if I try too hard I end up pushing it farther away.

      • Don’t get me started on names. A few weeks back I bumped into a friend of my dad’s and I was trying to introduce him to the mate I was talking to but for the life of me I couldn’t remember his name, no matter how hard I tried. It came to me the next day with no effort at all.
        .-= Sire´s last blog ..Shocking October Stats Not So Shocking =-.

        • Oh the names are awful! 🙂 A few years ago I really thought I might have early dementia because I have that “tip of the tongue syndrome” with names very often. Then later I found out it’s just a nice, normal introvert thing.

  6. Some very good tips. I find that I’m always thinking and processing what I want to say, before I say it, instead of letting things flow naturally.

    • Thanks Evan! Yeah I think that’s just the way our brains work. I’m sure the extroverts who are waiting can’t imagine what is going on in our heads, 🙂 because in their case they just start talking and the talking helps them to think!

      Thanks for your comment – hope you keep coming back to IntrovertZone!

  7. Hi Even,

    You are right on the dot! I found out a lot about myself just reading this post, thank you.

    One way I am thinking of handling my “buffering” is just to be upfront about it. Just put on my “thinking face” and say, wait a minute, I am thinking :-). Usually if I do this a couple of times, I become relaxed in the conversation enough to start getting into the flow…

    Cheers,
    Krishna
    .-= Krishna´s last blog ..Believe your way to Success =-.

    • Hi Krishna – that sounds like a great way to gain a little time to think! It handles that “buffering” and like you said, you end up relaxing after you’ve managed it a couple of times. Thanks for your comment – please do keep coming back to IntrovertZone!

  8. Are all introverts internal thinkers? I have a few traits (like being comfortable talking to strangers) that confused me for a long time with regards to introversion/extroversion. And one of those is thinking out loud.

    But I’m not sure it is the same as how extroverts do so, because I’m not at all likely to ask a question in a class/meetings/etc, and even when I have a question, I usually figure it out before I can bring myself to ask the question. So there is internal thinking going on…but I very often find myself needing to talk (by which I mean email or face to face…i hate the phone!) through something I’m stuck on or trying to decide on at work or in my personal life. It helps me to clarify things if I express it to someone else.

    Of course, maybe this is related to the word retrieval issue. Maybe what I’m doing is figuring out how to express what I’m thinking?

    Funny side note with regards to word retrieval – I did a semester abroad in Germany in college, and when I came back, I had “holes” where some of my English vocab used to be. Sometimes I could only retrieve the German word, but often I couldn’t retrieve either! And once I was really really really convinced that the German word I came up with was actually English. A friend had to insist that I prove it…and of course I was wrong!

    Which reminds me – is there any connection between visual thinkers and introversion? That might just be a personal quirk of mine, but it’s one of the things I’ve always partially blamed my difficulty in expressing something (for the first time, at least). I think visually a lot of times, rather than in words. (This is why I could be convinced that a German word was English, I think.) Maybe that ties into the long-term memory for word retrieval?

    • Deb – I have done exactly the same thing, asking a lot of people’s opinions about life situations. Like you, I definitely think things through before I’d ever ask a question or answer one, but there’s something – maybe the “F” in our INFx personality type – that really wants to hear how situations look to others. I don’t do that nearly as much now as I did ten years ago. I’m not sure if I’m clearer now on what I want or maybe I’m just no longer in situations that are so hard to decide on. 🙂

      You really immersed yourself in the German language I guess then! It is so frustrating to not be able to come up with a word.

      I haven’t read anything in scientific literature about introversion – that’s something I’m going to have to get going on! But I share your visual thinking. When I was coming up with questions to ask Hunter Nuttall for his interview, I told him that sometimes my mind has an amazingly beautiful fractal-like thought in it but I express it so woefully inadequately. I’m so visual I don’t even listen when someone gives me directions verbally or introduces themselves. I don’t mean to tune out, but I just do – give me a little map! Show me your name in print! 🙂

  9. I don’t have the word retrieval issue, but I like to collect my thoughts before speaking. My mom said when I was little, I didn’t speak at all until one day I blurted out a whole sentence. I need to get it all aligned in the right order and pull in associated ideas along with it. Sometimes thinking out loud helps me. I am very visual…if I see something I can understand it, where hearing a description of it does not make it “click”.

    • I love to collect my thoughts, and I’d often love to stop right there enjoying my thoughts and not say anything at all. 🙂 I like to talk to friends and family, but I don’t want to *have* to talk. I think out loud to myself! If I’m reading something difficult and trying to learn something while there’s noise around me, I’ll start explaining it to myself. 🙂 Guess I’m the odd mumbling loner over there..

      Thank goodness for the internet. We get SO much more of our information visually than we did 20 years ago.

  10. Pingback: I’m Normal…Just An Introvert! | Atticannie's Blog

  11. I think it’s really a matter of training yourself. I would classify myself as rather introverted. I do tend to pause a LOT while speaking. It’s not so much stumbling for words as trying to find the most correct word – the word that has the absolute nuance I want to convey. Unfortunately, with the size vocabulary I have, I often have to restate things in more common words or explain the uncommon usage of a common word.

    Yes, I am *rather* a prolific writer, as well. In that whole joke about men speaking 5000 words and women speaking 8000 in a day, I’d come in on the very low end of average. Writing, I bang out tens of thousands of words in a day: email, instant messages, SMSes, blogging, forums – you name it.

    Introver/extrovert tends to also be fairly contextual. In my career/fields of expertise, I’m rather more towards the extroverted side than I am in my personal life. In my work life, I’m not really so much concerned about what people think of *me* as much I am about what’s thought of my ideas and things that I produce.

    /me shrugs

    • Thomas sounds like you really know your stuff, and I know a lot of guys who also don’t seem *introverted* at work because they’re “thinkers” instead of “feelers.” To them the worst thing that can happen is to be wrong or seem as incompetent, where as to me (a feeler) the worst that can happen is to be criticized or ridiculed for ANY reason.

  12. I (the Introvert) have a friend (the Extravert) who used to get really annoyed with me whenever he asked me a question of any kind as I would take so long to respond (because “I’m Thinking!” as I would so often explain). He’s known me long enough now to expect the delay.

    • Darren, I’m glad he’s learned to wait! Sometimes I find that if someone requests something of me or other personal type conversation, I may agree too quickly simply because I haven’t had a chance to really think or let the question simmer a little, inside my brain.

      • Your thing about speaking too quickly reminds me of how it always leads to the inevitable “Dang, I should have said THIS” inside your head a few minutes (or even hours) later. I know personally, it quietly nags at me for a little bit until another quick response is necessary and then I’ll later think of how I should have said something different for that one. It’s like a never-ending loop.

        When someone asks me if I can help them with/explain something to them, I am always glad to help, and take it pretty hard if I can’t give them the answer they’re looking for (I’m an ISTJ). Thankfully, that doesn’t happen very often, but there are plenty of times I just get stuck for words in trying to figure out the best way to vocalize what they need to hear even though things make perfect sense in my head. However, it does all make its way out eventually in a relatively coherent manner. 🙂

        • I have the same problem when I’m trying to help someone with something – even something I know very well. I have so much inside my head that I can’t even really put words to, and I’m always so full of regret that it doesn’t look like the other person is catching on after all. Oh yes, those, “I should have said…” always happen, whether it’s something in an argument, or a job interview, or just an important conversation!

    • my partner still gets irritated with me too when i take too long to respond…i need to think and find the right words to answer and i dont want to blurt and sound stupid..he still needs a few more years to understand i guess lol.

  13. Boy, I know that feeling. It can be hard when you’re competing for attention span or speaking time with an extrovert. You no more get one plank in place on the verbal bridge you’re building, when they leap in and interrupt, possibly hijacking it forever. And then there’s just no way to get it all out.

  14. Yes! This is exactly how I feel. I often feel like I flounder for the EXACT word I want. Even when I write, my train of thought pauses for that EXACT word, so I keep thesaurus.com on hand. Too bad that’s not really acceptable for job interviews or speeches. Speeches are the worst because if I feel at all like my speech is slowing then I panic. I suppose practice does help in that situation. Speeches are NOT my forte. I find myself thinking through exactly what I say before I say it when I’m replying to a professor, etc. I noticed in my psychology class that I’m probably the only person in the class that doesn’t use interjections such as “like” and “um” continually when discussing topics in class. I never really thought about it until now, but since introversion is only 25% of the population, perhaps it’s because I’m used to thinking through what I’m going to say before I say it so I automatically edit out the interjections? That makes sense. Of course I remember practicing not saying interjections all of the time in high school and that could have an effect on it, too. But that’s definitely food for thought.
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..More ASC Photos =-.

    • It is definitely food for thought – I notice I don’t do that either. I may have done it as a child; I don’t remember. But now the last thing I’d consider doing is making someone listen to extra words, even “like” or “um,” while I’m thinking. 🙂

      • Emily Roberts on

        Me neither; I virtually never use interjections like that unless I’m put on the spot and required to give an answer immediately. It’s curious though; my extremely extroverted friend uses “like” and “um” literally after every other word. I can tell that he’s saying everything that comes to mind the instant it’s there, and sometimes his mouth works faster than his brain, so he runs out of things to say before coming up with something new, and ends up throwing “like” and “um” around as filler so his brain can catch up to his mouth 🙂

  15. As an introverted person I think this is a good article about the thought process of an introvert. One of my professors in business school once said to the class that an introverted person take on average 7 seconds to come up with a good answer when questioned on the spot, while an extrovert takes less than 1. This is often a reason why introverts are not very good at group brainstorming sessions.

  16. This rings very true for me, too. I often handle the “pause for thinking” delay with humor. My standard joke is: “I have an idea about that; let me gather my thoughts–picture a loading bar.”

    I’ve also found it helps when listening to others to mentally “tag” words or phrases to go with my ideas as I’m forming them. For example, if a friend is telling me about sleeping problems with her toddler, and it occurs to me to suggest a certain book, I’ll tag the title and author, so that the center of the sentence is in place already as soon as it’s my turn to talk.

    Sometimes I’ll even tap my fingers on a table or my knee to keep track, that way, when the person talking pauses, I can say, “Well, there’s three things to consider.” I’ve found giving people a number helps me keep from getting derailed before my idea is fully explained.

    I, too do the thinking out loud thing, and I often practice a conversation in advance, e.g., I’ll be driving, washing dishes, etc., and I’ll think of something I want to say to a certain person, then I’ll begin framing the best presentation for the idea out loud as I think it out.

    That trait of my own, along with some of those mentioned here makes me wonder if introverts memories of prior conversations–things that have been said out loud–are more easily accessed than sentences that have yet to be formed. I, for example, can often remember in great detail conversations with others. does that hold true for anyone else?

    • Some good tips, and yes – I definitely remember plenty about conversations that already took place, yet I may have trouble coming up with a way to verbalize my thoughts, especially to people who aren’t in my “inner circle.”

  17. Emily Roberts on

    I have trouble with the whole thinking before I speak thing; whenever someone asks me something, I feel like I have to answer right away, and that often leaves me floundering for words halfway through… I do a lot of pantomiming 🙂 Even if I had the opportunity to stop and think about what I wanted to say, I can never think straight when I know someone is watching me, waiting for me to say something. It’s so unnerving that I can’t think straight and just say whatever happens to be on the tip of my tongue at the time, and sometimes it’s not all that intelligent 🙂 I definitely prefer writing emails to talking face to face.

    • I agree so much here. I’ve noticed when I talked I use a lot of body language to help accompany my fluttering words lol. I either pantomime or completely turn my sentence in word salad (Not really but it’s filled with stuff I didn’t mean to say). Halfway through I notice I’m messing up which slows me down and makes me mess up even more! But yes I understand there seems to be this urge to reply almost instantly when asked a question even when I know I have to formulate what I think first. But just curious (wanted to see if I was the only one who did this), since you do the pantomime thing as well. Do you make “weird” noises or sounds to help accompany your stories? Most of the time I respond to people I usually do this because I feel it happening one way. So instead of it being words its more of a noise that projects said feeling. This way even though my words aren’t making sense hopefully my actions and accompanying sounds will.

  18. My workplace is one of those places you must have a meeting for everything. Everyone talking on the heels of the next. By the time I formulate what I want to say they are 3 subjects past it & it is no longer relevant. My extroverted co worker says I have to jump in & laughs when I say I really can’t. No concept. So after awhile all this constant stimulation puts me to sleep. J

    • It sure does! Today I tried to push for sending a survey out to people we need information from instead of having a big meeting with all of them there. I pointed out that after the first 20 minutes, everything else that gets said will just be rehashing those first 20 minutes over and over again with needless blather. Two intelligent introverts near me said, “I KNOW!”

  19. I am starting to use the introvert/extrovert philosophy at work. I often have to meet with people to obtain information, so I analyze their communications first.

    Short & sweet… extrovert, let me know what you want and get out — will prefer to talk
    Includes lots of personal stuff… extrovert, will prefer to talk and will glaze over if a detailed email is sent
    Detailed email…introvert, appreciates detail, will NOT be happy with an “off the cuff” phone call, send info via email

    So far this is working terrific, my boss….the “lots of personal stuff” type can’t understand that SOME people really do prefer to converse via email and don’t like to be hit with a bunch of questions at a meeting. Imagine that…

    Jewels

    • Jewels – that is perfect. For three weeks I’ve been intending to write a post about that very subject, how I made a huge mistake more than once by treating people as I wanted to be treated, when really I needed to treat them according to THEIR personality. Yep, I’ve had bosses who deleted all of their emails – couldn’t be bothered with all those details! 😀

  20. Thanks, I think the hardest part has been for the ones I work closely with, to understand my needs. But I think it is often difficult for extroverts to accept other communication styles since the majority of America are extroverts.

    J

  21. I chuckle at myself recalling the humor I had experienced during one of our meetings. We were sitting around in a circle, brainstorming, when suddenly I was caught off-guard by our Committee Coordinator, asking for my idea on the subject matter. One problem and has become a habit is thinking too much – so in depth that you cannot fish them out of your ocean. And then, getting your attention which was uncalled for turns your head blank for losing focus. Having said that, all the fishes went back down the water! In return, I can’t think of anything to say or was slow to let a word out. This led our Coordinator to finally reply, “Wait a sec. She is still buffering.” and the crowd went silent. In the end, I had said nothing, and after the meeting, all the ideas came jumping back in the net again!

  22. Wow, that’s some amazing research. I would never have guessed that there’s such a difference in the actual brain function of introverts and extroverts. That makes a lot of sense though. I think it’s better to pause before speaking anyway. People respect that.
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  23. This is definitely an article that I can relate to. Being an introvert, I sometimes find it funny how I can converse so well online, and yet the same eloquence does not come out when speaking face to face. Hopefully this book can clear up some misunderstandings about us introverts.

  24. I so relate to this site. Thank you. At 53 I now sort of accept being aloner who sometimes breaks out of my shell or lets some one else in. I’m a workaholic. I’m wondering if there is any relation between this slow word retrieval and something I noticed about myself decades ago.I am NOT an auditory learner at all I needed to physically involve info , to “get it”write it down, read it, type it, etc.. I’m still that way. Is this a slight learning difficulty (never diagnosed, tested for honors classes) or just a personality trait , too? Are they connected ? Does anyone else process info this way, too?

  25. I am so very much an introvert. It never used to bother me in the past… I loved myself for who I was and I knew that even though I didn’t always display my intelligence well to others, it didn’t mean I wasn’t intelligent. I used to love to think and create and had many happy idealistic thoughts and ideas. I’m not entirely sure when but somewhere in the last 4 to 5 years this has changed. I think it changed when I graduated high school and suddenly had a terrible time making new friends and reestablishing myself. It has been hard to get close to people again. I have found that in the last few years I have felt forced to move at a quicker pace and had many expectations placed on me that I have tried very hard to meet… but never finding adequate time to think or feel. As a result I have felt quite numb for the last few years.

    I have especially been struggling lately as I have met the most amazing boy in the world, we dated for 5 months and he proposed… I said yes… we are getting married in 5 months… and I feel ridiculously self conscious of the time I need to take to mentally process everything. He might ask me to tell me why I love him and I freeze up because I want my answer to be perfect but I can’t think of it on the spot. Then in that exact moment when I could be silently pausing to gather my thoughts… the only thought I can think is “wow I need to respond right now but can’t think… he is probably thinking this is so awkward… I should know something as simple as this right off the top of my head… ok this silence is way too long… can’t think… laugh awkwardly… this is just painful… maybe I can change the subject… ” etc. and then I HATE myself for freezing up. I should be comfortable with my own future spouse but he still makes me way more self conscious than any other person in the world! What is wrong with me?

    I also agree with the visual thinking comment up there. I think that I think almost in pictures and not necessarily in words so I am not as good at connecting my ideas to words and then expressing them effectively.

    • First of all congrats on the engagement! I completely understand the fuzy feeling. After leavig high school I moved from the family farm outside a small town to the city for university. Between school, work, city life, the stimulation is so much by the end of the day I’m beat. I’m still trying to figure out how to balance my work life with personal time necessary to function and still have time to have a (currently non existent) social life. Best of luck in the future to you and your fiance!

    • Congratulations on finding an amazing man to spend your life with. You could try writing down all the ways you love him. I don’t know if that would help. Also, if he’s an extrovert learning about your type might help him a lot. It is helping my husband. He is starting to understand better and he’s watched the TED Talk on Susan Cain’s book Quiet.

  26. In my world, I am rarely allowed to buffer at all. I am expected to spout off on the spot my feelings and I often have a lot of trouble doing that. From work to my marriage. At work, making matters worse is there are several people who test Introvert who are extremely loud and vocal, while I’m the shy type. They complete defy what people think of as introvert while I am stereotypical. This is annoying. My husband is an extrovert and whenever I try to tell him a story his jumping in with questions before I’m even done and I have learned to interrupt him and say “Can I finish?” We’re like Romney and Obama! But this gives me a chance to stay on track. But if I’m really upset, I may take 24 hours to process my thoughts and verbalize them.

  27. Virginia Elliott on

    As I read your article, I felt as if I were looking in a mirror. At age 71 I’m here to state that age doesn’t help. My husband no longer sits around while I collect my thoughts telling me to collect my thoughts and then start speaking. Alzheimer does not run in my family so I had my doubts about my increasing inability to form complete sentences. I;m certain that being ADHD doesn’t help the situation. This article is going to be saved just to boost me on the really bad days.

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