Why Introverts Make People Uncomfortable – A Quintessential Leader Perspective

Posted: October 23, 2018 in Quintessential Leader Basics
Tags: , , , , ,

Introverts make people uncomfortable for a variety of reasons.  It’s not intentional nor is it deliberate, but the further away from introversion people are, the more discomfort they will experience around introverts.

Why?

One reason why introverts make people uncomfortable is because they don’t react to anything right away. Instead, they get very quiet and often are completely expressionless. Many people assume it’s because introverts aren’t interested, don’t care, or believe whatever’s out there on the table is bad, dumb, or trash.

What’s really going on here with introverts, however, is that they’re thinking about and processing the information they’ve been presented with. This takes time. Perhaps a short amount of time – they may come back with a response a few hours later (at which point either just everyone else has moved on and has no idea what they’re talking about or decisions have already been made, so their input is dismissed or ignored) – or a longer period of time – days, weeks, or months, even.

Not waiting for your introverts’ input can be costly. Because introverts are critical and analytical thinkers, they look at all sides of an issue, a problem, an idea, a proposal, or a presentation and they carefully examine its merit, its validity, and its pros and cons.

Extroverts, on the other hand, respond before the words are out of someone’s mouth, jump right on it without a thought in the world, and race to accomplish. They literally fly by the seat of their pants, talking and talking and talking their way through the process, which may look good superficially, but may have deep problems and issues under the surface.

However, extroverts are lauded for their speed, their eagerness, and their responsiveness, no matter what happens in the long term.

Which is where introverts come in and clean up the messes. Every single time.

Another reason why introverts make people uncomfortable is that introverts don’t mind spending a lot of time alone and actually enjoy spending a lot of time alone.

Introverts are not antisocial, but interacting with people drains their batteries. It doesn’t matter if they enjoyed or they didn’t enjoy it, the result is the same. To recharge those batteries, introverts need a lot of alone time. 

So if you spent time with an introvert in the morning and then want to go out for a movie or dinner with them in the evening, expect them to thank you, but to politely decline the evening invitation.

Because extroverts get their batteries charged by socializing and interacting with people, this behavior by introverts makes them uncomfortable because it makes no sense to them why anyone would rather be by themselves than hanging out with a ton of people.

A final reason why introverts make people uncomfortable is because they may seem uncommunicative or they prefer to communicate in writing rather than on the phone or in person.

Introverts, except with a few exceptions of family and friends, absolutely hate talking on the phone. Phone conversations require instant feedback and responses, which introverts just can’t provide. Emails or some other form of writing, however, gives introverts a chance to think, analyze, formulate their thoughts and express themselves most clearly and most effectively.

The less introverted someone is the more likely you’ll hear them say that people can’t really express everything that needs to be expressed in writing (tell the poets, the novelists, and the playwrights that) and that email is too impersonal.

A comment on “too impersonal.” A person saying this – who is either an ambivert or an extrovert – is really bemoaning the lack of emotional context in email. But this is exactly why introverts prefer email, especially when they’re dealing with important or sensitive matters because they want objective facts, not emotionally-tinged derailments and sidebars.

The Washington Post had an intriguing article recently about a new personality test that is more comprehensive than the standard Myers-Briggs personality test, because it includes character traits, among other things, in addition to temperament types.

The research around the test suggested that perhaps introverts weren’t really as introverted as the Myers-Briggs test showed if you figured in other aspects of who the person is. Intrigued, I decided to take the test (the test is long, but you can take it here) to see whether this was would still show an extremely strong introverted temperament.

It did not differ at all from my Myers-Briggs results (and it really picked up the strongest aspects of my character, which was interesting as well), which reinforces my belief that that temperament is hardwired. It’s in our genes. We can fake another temperament – maybe – for a short period of time, but DNA kicks in quickly and whichever temperament we’re coded for returns in full force.

As quintessential leaders, we have the responsibility to, not only deal with our own temperaments – and that sometimes means stretching out of our comfort zones for the benefit of our teams – but the temperaments of those we lead.

There will be misunderstandings, issues, and discomfort all the way around sometimes. But as quintessential leaders, we have the obligation to navigate through these, clearing up misunderstandings, addressing issues, and alleviating discomfort.

We do that through education and through our examples. We should be focusing on different kinds of temperaments in our team meetings. We should be talking about the differences and how to relate to each other to not only respect, but also to overcome, those differences. 

We live in a world where wisdom, understanding, kindness, gentleness, and self-control has virtually disappeared. Our society has become narcissistic that most people just don’t really care about anybody but themselves and what they want. They tear down bridges instead of building them.

We should be different.

How are we doing?

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