5 Questions Introverts Hate - and Why Extroverts Ask Them
Dealing with Misunderstandings
Life as an introvert isn't always easy, with all of the misconceptions we face everyday - many of which come from well meaning extroverts.
What may be simple curiosity for outgoing people, might come across as invasive and judgmental for introverts, simply because we hear such things all the time.
"Why do I always get asked such stupid questions? Why do they think I'm shy or that something's wrong with me?"
The fact that misunderstandings can cause problems in our personal lives and in the workplace also can be a source of frustration and anxiety. It's important for both sides to try to understand each other - to not only not jump to conclusions, but to know the reasons why people might form those conclusions.
What Causes These Questions
Misunderstandings are the cause of extroverts asking these kinds of questions. After all, most people, especially in America, are raised to value outspokenness and getting along with others above all else. Introverts, with their radically different personalities and values, and preference for lots of alone time, are naturally going to cause confusion.
This is why, despite being annoyed sometimes by extroverts' comments and questions, I try to take a step back and understand their perspective. After all, if most people around you fit a certain mold, and have similar values to you when it comes to socializing, you're going to be thrown off by someone different.
Still, any happy and healthy relationship is based on acceptance - especially when first getting to know each other.An extrovert may just be worried or curious, but unfortunately most introverts will see these questions as judgmental, and start getting defensive.
Putting someone on the defensive is no way to get them to open up - so ironically, many of these questions end up reinforcing myths by causing the introvert to close down, becoming quieter than usual and even a little hostile in the process.
Can you imagine if people did this with any other personality trait or characteristic? Why are you so talkative? Why is your hair so red? Why does your voice sound like that? The person asking would get shut down pretty quickly.
Are You Shy?
Quietness and lack of social participation are often taken as signs of shyness or anxiety. This isn't always the case - introverts tend to be quieter and more observant, even in noisier social situations like parties. It's the same in the workplace - introverts often don't speak up in meetings, preferring to observe, reflect, and come up with conclusions after the fact.
But again, this can become something of a fulfilled prophecy - surrounded by enough extroverted misconceptions of who they are, introverts tend to become withdrawn. Depression and loneliness for introverts are often results of dealing with such lack of understanding for so long.
This is especially true in school, where their quiet nature sometimes (though not always) become a cause of ridicule and bullying among their peers, and even teachers and parents have misplaced worry.
Luckily, most introverts gain confidence with more life experience, and gradually accept themselves for who they are.
Why Are You So Quiet?
This question is asked for similar reasons to misconceptions about introversion vs. shyness. To many extroverts, someone not talking or socially participating must have something wrong with them.
Maybe they're shy or anxious, or are angry and giving the silent treatment. In any case, silence is rarely seen as a positive in most social circles and workplaces.
One reason (among others) why introverts don't talk as much is because group interactions and louder environments can be overstimulating. Extroverts also tend to talk and react a lot faster - by the time an introvert has thought of a response to something, others in the group are already halfway through saying it!
Slightly slower response times are another reason why introverts hate times when they're "put on the spot" and expected to give an answer right away.
Why Are You So Serious?
Introverts tend to live in their heads and inner thoughts more than extroverts. This means not a lot of attention is necessarily paid to things like facial expressions and body language, which can be off-putting to some people.
Also if they're feeling closed off or uncomfortable around someone, they'll probably be giving this impression. I personally tend to be in my own world when I'm minding my own business - if a friendly stranger or someone I know engages me in conversation, it's like becoming a (somewhat) different person.
Much like with other misconceptions, the fact that introverts are overstimulated in certain environments can give this impression.
Why Don't You Get Out More?
Introverts love having quiet places to recharge - and for many, their homes serve that purpose. I know after a long day out with my friends, or a night drinking, I need at least another whole day to recharge - during which I like to spend in complete solitude in my home.
Even while traveling I am like this - I usually stop visiting tourist sites around the early evening, then spend a few hours in my hotel room before exploring a city's nightlife.
Introverts also often need some down time each day to think and reflect, and can feel irritable and anxious if they go long periods without it.
Do You Hate People?
This is often asked because it's assumed that people with more friends and social circles are happier and healthier. And indeed, feeling connected to other people is a huge part of someone's well-being.
But again, in a society that values networking and making connections, an introvert's behavior and preferences can seem alien. People with introverted personalities tend to prefer one on one interactions over large groups, and small circles of trusted friends over a large army of acquaintances.
While they also realize the importance of connections in life, both personally and professionally, introverts also tend not to form friendships primarily with utility in mind. They are more likely to leave a networking event after long, in-depth conversations with one or two people, rather than with a stack of business cards.
Much like lifestyle and dietary needs, everyone has different social needs, even among introverts. I personally love parties and bar hopping, but am exhausted the next day and need lots of time to recharge. Realizing that people want and need different amounts of social interaction in their lives is a big step towards being more understanding.