Some introverts like me haven’t figured out how to communicate with extroverts. But it is not for lack of trying. I think I over-correct, mess-up and go back to struggling in silence. Consider this:
Most introverts spend time listening more than speaking and are perhaps, risk averse and slow to respond. Our learned culture is to accept that “Louder is good, Faster is better and Expressive is best!”. In a world that rewards loud, verbose, perhaps half-baked reactions – what chance does a slower, quieter response have? As a mitigation, I find it disarming & calming to volunteer that I’m not the smartest person in the room.
I’ll admit this, I don’t have a poker face. You can tell what I’m thinking because you can read it my face. Most introverts have, what they say, a “resting b*tch face”. Folks think that a certain pinched expression in my face is a sign that they are being quietly judged or that I am seething. Nah. I’m quietly planning your demise?
That said, the time that I take to be thoughtfully construct a question is often misinterpreted as an invitation to speak over me. This, at times, stifles me and I mess up my word economy and quality of content drops. In other times, folks may also speak for us in group conversations, assuming we can’t speak up for ourselves. I struggle in silence.
Conversations get tiring for introverts. Even listening can be exhausting. After a while, we may want to enjoy a few moments of silence. Unfortunately, folks see our lack of response as an invitation to keep talking…and talking…and talking. Please. Just stop. To make things worse, in my stress behaviour of over-compensating in a room full of extroverts, I end up talking a lot to be more like extroverts.
Enough of the introvert platitudes and extrovert bashing; l’ll admit that sometimes it can be great to have a talkative extrovert in the mix. They keep energy levels high, fill the pauses and keep morale high. The balance we would benefit from finding in today’s extrovert-biased society (outspokenness = confidence, intelligence) is to recognise that the person who speaks the loudest may not necessarily be the smartest. Introverts may not say a lot, but we have a loch of creative ideas inside our head. No Nessies are hurt in this process.
Oh and introverts are not always socially anxious or awkward.
For instance, the above is not me.. it is a Finnish hallway 😉