With this last stretch of my college life coming to an end and my newly obtained knowledge in the psychology of personality, I felt the need to exercise that skill my talking about a common personality trait that, for some reason, still gets a lot more flack that it should and that I proudly flaunt.
Today, we will discuss introverted personalities and how to treat them respectably. Why? Because whether it’s your child, a parent, a sibling, a loved one, or just a close friend, they are human and deserve just as much love and care as you would want. As such, here is a list of things to keep in mind when dealing with an introvert.
Introversion Is NOT Shyness or Being Antisocial
When identifying someone as an introvert, it’s important to not confuse their personality for shyness. Shyness would suggest a repulsion to social interaction and a desire to avoid it when unnecessary. An introverted person, on the other hand, relishes social interactions but is easily drained by them and can’t stand constant social movement without a break to digest it. This the main difference between introverts and extroverts; an extrovert goes to a party and builds momentum and energy over the evening while an introvert has to excuse themselves after 20 minutes to regain momentum and energy.
Also, NEVER call an introvert “antisocial.” Antisocial behavior is a serious mental condition that, as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), results in “significant impairments in personality functioning manifest by impairments in self functioning… and impairments in interpersonal functioning.” One suffering from Antisocial Personality Disorder is typically egocentric, acts only on self-gratification regardless of circumstances, and lacks concern for others. Got that – introversion is a personality factor, antisocial behavior is a mental disorder.
Understand How Introverts Socialize
As stated above, introverts have a very different way of engaging others from other personality types. To reiterate, introverts need to break off from intense social interactions occasionally to regather steam and internalize the thoughts and information they’ve gathered. Trying to keep pushing more info into their heads will just result in them getting frustrated and angry.
Also take note that when they do engage others, they tend to encourage the other to speak first, listen to what they have to say, and react rather than initiate contact. Never force an introvert to engage if they aren’t prepared; it will just result in them retreating back harder. Also, don’t force an introvert to make idle chit-chat or gossip; they only want to talk if they feel have something of substance to share.
Speaking of preparing, you may notice that introverts tend to take longer pauses between back and forth conversations. This is because they value silence as a chance to think about what they’ve heard and what they’ll say next. More often that not, an introvert will take time to internalize their thoughts prior to sharing them. Like the ents from Lord of the Rings, an introvert will never say anything that’s not worth taking a long time to say.
Recognizing The Things Introverts Hate
While it’s easy to make jokes at the things introverts hate, most of them are surprisingly spot on and accurate.
Introverts tend to hate being interrupted. They spent a good long time thinking about what they what to say to you and you stepping on their toes tends to translate as, “I don’t give a damn what you think.” When an Introvert speaks (be fair, when anyone speaks), wait your turn.
Telephones are a source of unease for introverts. There exists no real efficient and socially acceptable way to tell the other person you need a break without lying or sounding like a jerk. Most of this is due to the lack of body language that comes with phone conversations. Also, phones seem specifically designed for rapid fire exchanges which, as we have discussed, are not the introverts strong suit. If you must call an introvert, be mindful that they prefer to keep the exchange short and to crucial information – no gossip. Also, don’t be offended if they need to quit on you to recollect themselves; it’s just how they work.
Noise, however, is probably an introverts greatest enemy. Remember how they love to listen to others and need to internalize their own thoughts. Well, they can’t internalize if they’re busy listening. That’s right; it’s possible for an introvert to LITERALLY have things so loud they can’t hear themselves think. If an introvert says they need peace and quiet, they probably have a lot on their mind. Let them work it out first, THEN ask them what what was on their mind.
Hanging With Introverts Is Great!
Introverted people are actually really good to have around. Their methodical nature makes them great listeners when you have a problem.
An introvert, if handled well, can be a great friend… They just can’t be everybody’s friend all of the time.