Myth #1: Introverts don’t like people. Yes, I’ve been stabbed with this accusation too many times. Um, tell me again how “not liking people” fits with the fact that I would rather spend hours talking about significant life issues with a few friends over a cup of coffee than to spend the same amount of time at a noisy party making meaningless small talk with fifty different people. Actually, we introverts like people a lot. We just like them in a different way than extroverts. Give them to us a few at a time please. And give us a few weeks to get to know them; better yet, a year.
Myth #2: Introverts don’t like to talk. Actually, many introverts love to talk. They only dislike meaningless small talk and talking in large groups. But get them started on a subject they really care about, and you may get an earful! Extroverts simply have no idea how much energy it takes for us introverts to make small talk about things we don’t care about, especially with people we don’t know. Making small talk is an art I’ve tried to teach myself, because it really is necessary sometimes. You would probably laugh at the ways I’ve studied this. What comes naturally for some people takes enormous amounts of brain power and emotional energy for others.
Myth #3: Introverts are snobby, unfriendly, and reclusive. Ok maybe sometimes we are, or at least we appear that way. But what extroverts need to understand is that while they thrive on social interaction and are energized by it, we introverts are quickly drained by it. It’s not that we don’t enjoy it. But see what I said in the previous post about being easily overwhelmed by sensory stimuli. We have to conserve our social energy and use it wisely. We can’t afford to waste it on meaningless interaction.
Myth #4: Introverts are quiet because they are trying to hide something. They are not being genuine. Please don’t buy into this assumption! While many other cultures see quiet people as wise and introspective, Americans have come to regard silence with suspicion. Many times we introverts are simply oblivious. You may need to remind us to talk.
She’s not talking. She must not like us. Actually, I was busy reflecting on a previous conversation and didn’t hear a word of the conversation going on around me.
She’s not saying anything. She must disapprove of what we are doing. Uh, sorry—I was just staring out the window, mesmerized by the beauty of the sunset.
She didn’t tell us about the plans and expectations we should have known about. She is a poor communicator. Well, I wrote you a very detailed notice with my plans laid out precisely. You didn’t read it? You ignored it? You forgot about it? That’s ok if you did. Just don’t blame me for the breach in communication.
Ok, maybe I’d better stop. What did I say in a previous post about getting defensive :)?
Please feel free to chime in here and add your thoughts (whether in the comments, by private message, or in person). I’d love hear what you have to say on the subject, and if my perspective is skewed, I want to know. In my next post, I’ll look at the way Christianity plays into this.