Being introverted is not something to worry about. An introvert is not “less good” than any extroverts you may know/ see/ hear about. Despite knowing this, many introverts worry about being introverted and issues they can deal with. Here are the ten introvert fears, most commonly cited, and how to get over them. You won’t stop being an introvert, but you can be a quietly successful introvert.
Introvert and extrovert is a spectrum
Introvert/ extrovert is not a binary switch. There is is a spectrum, from heavily introverted to strongly extroverted, there are many people in between.
Many personality types overlap with the introvert/ extrovert spectrum. These overlaps (e.g. shy) affect how effective commonly proposed “solutions” work for different introverts. What’s more many of the common introvert fears are also held by extroverts; that’s another reason to stop worrying about being introverted.
Introverts have many skills
It seems that today’s society is biased towards for extroverts, which may make introverts copy extrovert behaviour. Introverts have a huge number of talents and can make amazing leaders, managers, business owners, or salespeople. The trick is to focus on your talents before worrying about introvert fears. Secondarily identify small areas you need to slowly adapt. In other words don’t try to work out how to stop being an introvert!
10 introvert fears and ideas to help
Many introverts report these fears, how they felt better just knowing these are common introvert fears. They’ve also found tactics to help them reduce the fears and become more effective in what they’re trying to do, so can you.
- My mood varies and sometimes I feel am more outgoing, although it’s tiring. The feeling of losing energy in company is one of the key things about an introvert. It’s good that you sometimes feel more outgoing, that doesn’t mean you’re not an introvert and it doesn’t mean you should worry. Learn the signs when you’re starting to feel more, or less, outgoing.
- I am only comfortable keeping up a conversation when I am comfortable with a person. This is very common for introverts (and is reported by some extroverts too). The reasons for feeling comfortable, or not, may vary and who likes speaking to somebody they don’t like? Introverts don’t tend to enjoy small talk, often happens when two people that don’t know each other interact (you can make small talk easier). Introverts are good listeners and if you use that to ask good questions it’s possible to deflect attention from you to the other person. Overall, refocus the conversation, and if it doesn’t last too long, don’t worry.
- I often feel I can’t interject in a discussion, despite having lots of knowledge on the subject. This can feel very frustrating, specially when other people say things you mildly disagree with. One technique that plays to the strengths of introverts is the summary. Take a quieter place in the conversation, summarise the points you’ve heard. This allows others to focus themselves, which they’re grateful for. It also allows you to then add your own view, or ask a question, if you wish to. Read “How to feel more confident joining in conversations, as an introvert”
- I tend to observe (follow) on social media rather than join in, even when I have lots to say on the subject. Many introverts liken social media to a sea of noise, the same as, or worse than being in a large conversation. They tend to avoid such “noisy” discussions, fearing they’ll get swept into the noise if they contribute. Lots of social media discussion is irrelevant nonsense, let’s remove that from the equation first. If it’s an important subject, add your thoughts and having contributed, you could always unfollow the conversation, or control the amount of times you dip back into it.
- I have few friends and the ones that I have are great. When I’m with these close friends I am absolutely myself. This is common for introverts. If somebody was to watch me among my close friends, when I have the desire to talk, they’d imagine me to be very extroverted. Keep in touch with these close friends, don’t “lose them”, include others into this circle when it feels right to slowly increase the range of close friends.
- Sometimes I strike up great conversations with strangers while out walking. This is a great skill for an introvert, it may be because you’re both sharing something common (the walk, the view, the wildlife etc.), or you’re relaxed. Having a common interest can make it much easier to start a great conversation. The fear is often getting out of “small talk” in this case walking can make it easy to exit the conversation relieving the pressure to keep talking (“sorry I need to keep walking”/ “I’m getting cold, better keep moving”). Have you thought about how lockdown affected this?
- I wish I had more friends. Don’t overlook the amazing friends you’ve already got! Take small steps to get more over a long time. Look for opportunities where you share a passion for something with others (hobbies, clubs etc.), this can be a comfortable way to get more friends. At work observe others who exhibit introverted behaviours, you may be able to help them (support them in meetings, tell others how good they are), or slowly get to know them. For more ideas about surviving meetings, click here.
- I feel I’m limiting my true potential. If you’re trying to be somebody you’re not, you are limiting yourself. Think about the skills you have and maximise those before being somebody else. Then go on to extend your networking skills, as networking is about close contacts, rather than general forced conversation with others you don’t enjoy as much.
- Sometimes I torture myself about the opportunities I’ve wasted because I’m antisocial. Introverts are not antisocial. Introverts do socialise they simply do socialise differently. Focus on what you do well rather than torture yourself.
- I worry there’s something wrong with me. There’s nothing wrong with any of these behaviours, or being introverted. You might not change your basic nature (in fact why would you want to, being an introvert is great) but can, with practice, extend your comfort in interacting with others.