what not to say… to an introvert

I’ve decided to add a new categories of posts, called “What not to say…” It’s like a dorky writer version of What Not to Wear. (Yes, your friends have reported you. We have evidence of your actions. You’re about to get ambushed.)

And because so many people can relate to being introverted, I’m tackling that one first. So here we go. Here’s what not to say to an introvert:

“Don’t you like people?” Um you, right now, not so much. But in general, yes. Our desire to embrace solitude has nothing to do with a dislike of people. But we’d rather hang out with smaller groups and reserve plenty of “me time” so we can process everything. It’s hard for extraverts to understand that. For them, more people = more fun. For us, more people = more stress.

“You should come – it’ll be fun!” Yeah, okay. We get it. You like parties and clubs and all kinds of large gatherings. You seek excitement and fun. But we don’t seek “fun” in the same way. And the more you bug us, try to convince us some social gathering will be awesome, the lower you fall on our friends list. The last thing we need is more pressure to be sociable. We get enough of that from society.

“I hope you don’t mind. I invited a few more people.” Um. What? The last thing you want to do is ambush an introvert with people. While an extravert may be thrilled to involve more people, an introvert needs to know what to expect, people-wise. Don’t invite us to hang out one-on-one and then add, oh, half a dozen people. Not cool.

“You’re being really quiet. What’s wrong?” Unlike extraverts, we’re completely comfortable with long periods of silence. Sure, some days we want to talk. Other days, we’re processing. It doesn’t mean we’re mad at you or annoyed. It just means we don’t have anything to say at the moment. Extraverts like to talk through their feelings, so it’s easy to know how an extravert is feeling. Introverts are more covert with our feelings. We keep them to ourselves, especially while we’re processing. We’ll get back to you on how we feel.

So there ya have it. Four things you should not say to an introvert – unless, of course, you want to lose them as a friend.

What do you think? Any of you introverts have anything to add? (Feel free to process and then get back to me. There’s no pressure here.)


  1. natalie
    May 10, 2012 @ 16:58:48

    “Well you can do that at my house!” I hate that one. When you tell an extrovert that you don’t want to do anything because you’re having a day to yourself.


  2. Janae
    May 10, 2012 @ 17:05:44

    “Why are you being so quiet?” Either one: I don’t have anything to say, or two: you won’t stop talking long enough for me to say something. lol.


  3. halee
    May 10, 2012 @ 17:27:16

    Natalie – totally been there! Um, it’s not the same, crazy extravert!

    Janae – lol! Yeah, sometimes it’s hard to squeeze in a word.


  4. Rachelle Rea
    May 10, 2012 @ 21:04:59

    Such a great list. I’d like to echo the two above and add, “What are you thinking about?” which usually follows my answering ,”Why are you being so quiet?” with “Oh, I’m, um, just thinking.”

    Hello, if I wanted to tell you what I was thinking, I wouldn’t be thinking it, I’d be telling you and you wouldn’t ask me why I was being quiet. 🙂

    Ahhh, it’s fun being an introvert!


  5. Emily
    May 10, 2012 @ 22:59:45

    I love this post, and I love how introverts are starting to become more recognized in society. I read an article in my local paper about introverts, and the picture that went with it showed someone with a bag over their head, as though this was a picture of how introverts feel in public. I was outraged. Just because we aren’t social butterflies, doesn’t mean we don’t have feelings and don’t know how to act! We are just more quiet. Thank you, Halee, for this post. I very much appreciated seeing what had been going on in my own head put down into words.


  6. halee
    May 11, 2012 @ 01:41:38

    Thanks, Emily! We definitely tend to be a misunderstood bunch.

    Rachelle, I know exactly what you mean! The same thing happens when I’m reading a book and someone comes up to me and says “what are you reading?” Um. I’m reading. Not talking. See the difference? lol.


  7. Francisco
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 10:58:58

    I appreciate your post. I teach pteaonsliry type and one of the things I notice is that some people have a difficult time choosing Introvert in my trainings. Introvert has been given a bad rap and a lot of people feel there must be something the matter with you if you’re an Introvert.I’m an Introvert and it hasn’t stopped me from being successful, conducting trainings, playing the piano to large audiences, and singing in front of large audiences.Knowing and understanding that I focus my Energy as an Introvert has helped me immeasurably, however. I make sure that I take time out to recharge my batteries by spending time alone when I’ve done a log of Extraverting. By knowing just this one thing about my type, I have eliminated the tension headaches I used to get that kept me in bed for several days at a time and no pain medication would deter. In fact, I haven’t been sick in years with a cold, etc.Understanding what the Energy behavior dimension is all about and the E/I preferences is very valuable information.


    • halee
      Jun 28, 2012 @ 15:58:28

      So true! Introversion has definitely gotten a bad rap. It’s past time for us to reclaim it and show how it can be positive.


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