I have a fellow introvert friend named Emma who reminds me of me when I was younger, in all the good ways. Quiet, thoughtful, curious about everything, and adventurous in her own way. (Actually I wish I had been more like her brave self.)
She always raises such good questions, so I enjoy our email conversations about navigating our way in the world as introverts who want to have a say in things.
Often she asks questions that I hear many introverts asking. This particular question shown below is so classic. If you’re introverted, you have heard this many times:
“You’re so quiet” or “Why are you being so quiet?”
Sound familiar? It’s just one version of something that can be about looking down on our introverted nature.
So I asked Emma for permission to share our conversation here, and she said yes. It addresses a common concern for introverts in a way that felt so useful. I wanted to share it with you in case it helps you too.
Can you relate to this networking event nametag?
That dread of so-called “small talk” is a classic concern of introverts. It might be the crux of why we are sometimes seen as anti-social.
If we want to find more ease in certain social situations (networking events, holiday parties…), we have to deal with our dread of small talk.
Common worries I’ve heard from introverts:
- “People think I’m a snob just because I’m not interested in the conversation.”
- “I’m not shy and I am friendly, but I don’t like small talk about nothing.”
The small talk concern is one of those hot button issues for introverts. I’ve noticed that just saying the phrase “small talk” leads to instant groans and rolling their eyes.
I’m an introvert who used to hate small talk too, so I can smile with recognition when introverts groan about it. But now it feels fine, well, most of the time. And I didn’t change who I am.
I have some easy solutions here for you.
It strikes me that these are the two classic paths for introverts. And this description helps explain the connection between introversion, shyness, and anxiety.
Of course real life is not so linear as the models below, but this makes a good bite-sized model. I hope you find this helpful.
The Path of Increasing Pain
If there’s no understanding or consciousness of one’s introverted temperament and how our brains work, introversion can lead to anxiety like in this example:
perfectionism and self-judgment
believing the negative stereotypes about introverts
shyness (fear of being seen as imperfect)
avoidance and/or wearing an extrovert mask
increasing fear and exhaustion
anxiety and low self-esteem
trapped in worsening anxiety and burnout.
Ouch, I’ve been on that path. It didn’t have to be like that. Finally I learned about introversion and that made a huge difference.
This painful path is more likely or worsened in cultures that tend to look down on introversion, such as in the U.S. But even in cultures that support introversion, the introvert’s brain is still prone to over-thinking which can lead to anxiety if left unchecked.
The Path of Growth and Ease
If an introvert learns about introversion, this is a more likely path: Continue reading
Does this house look like a great getaway to you? You might be an introvert!
[Updated 12/17/2016 because our understanding of introversion keeps evolving!]
I find in our Western culture, that both introverts and extroverts have a negative view of introversion. Or they confuse it with social anxiety disorder or shyness. Misunderstandings about introversion come up so often in my coaching work that I have to devote a page to it.
Introversion is not a judgment. It simply refers to a preferred style (like being left-handed or right-handed). And it’s a style that can be used to an advantage, once it’s understood. So what is it exactly? Continue reading