If someone displays these 9 subtle behaviors, they’re probably more introverted than you realize

Introverts get more attention than they used to – which, being introverts, they may not particularly appreciate.

The idea that some people are extroverts, who are energized by spending time with others, while others are introverts, who are energized by spending time alone, goes all the way back to the groundbreaking theories of psychologist Carl Jung.

But in recent years, this distinction between introverts and extroverts has received more attention than ever, and has become a part of popular culture.

Whenever that happens, misunderstandings usually creep in.

Introverts aren’t necessarily shy or antisocial. And because many introverts know that we live in a world that responds better to extroverted qualities than introverted ones, they can do a good job of hiding their true introverted nature.

But there are some subtle behaviors that can tip you off that someone may be more of an introvert than you think.

Keep an eye out for these signs of someone who is happy with their own company.

1) They prefer small groups

Contrary to what some people believe, introverts are absolutely capable of being part of large groups, whether that’s at social events or at work. But it’s also generally true that given the choice, they prefer smaller groups or one-on-one interaction.

For an introvert, large groups can often be overwhelming. Generally, they prefer to be in small groups or even dealing with people one-on-one where they can focus on what’s being said and on what they want to say.

In these settings, introverts can be very engaging and charming. They will tend to seek out situations like this instead of larger groups.

2) They speak thoughtfully

One of the key characteristics of introverts is that they often speak more thoughtfully than other people.

“Just as introverts are less likely to volunteer in public situations, they are also less likely to volunteer opinions or advice in less public settings,” writes psychologist Susan Krauss Whitbourne.

“Because of this, and because your advice may indeed be highly valued, it’s likely that if you’re constantly being asked “What do you think?” it might suggest that your behavior sends cues to others of your inner desire to focus your attention and thoughts inward,” she adds.

Introverts spend a lot of time thinking quietly by themselves. That means they often have real insight to offer and thoughtful opinions that go deeper than those of most people.

So if you know someone who seems to have thought things through more than most, it might be a sign that they are more introverted than you think.

3) They aren’t as interested in small talk

This is one of the classic signs of an introvert. And it’s one I struggle with myself.

I know that small talk is important. It’s those little conversations about nothing that help people feel at their ease around us and keep the wheels of social interaction turning.

But like most introverts, I would rather be having deeper, more meaningful conversations than chatting about the weather.

That doesn’t mean introverts can’t play the game. Lots of introverts have learned how to make small talk, but if you look closely, you may be able to tell that their hearts are not really in it.

They would far rather be discussing big ideas than saying things just for the sake of saying them.

4) They have solitary hobbies

Not only is time alone a good thing for introverts; it’s something they absolutely need.

It’s how introverts recharge their social batteries in a world that often seems too loud for them.

For that reason, they may engage in hobbies they can do alone.

Maybe they read a lot. Maybe they do puzzles, or work in the garden by themselves.

Maybe they go hiking alone, or travel solo.

Having solitary hobbies doesn’t necessarily mean someone is an introvert. But it is a good sign that they enjoy spending time alone, and that may very well mean they are more introverted than you think.

5) They listen more and speak less

pic2008 If someone displays these 9 subtle behaviors, they're probably more introverted than you realize

Because they are content to listen more and speak less, introverts often make the best listeners.

“As an introvert, your listening to talking ratio is higher,” says career coach and author of author of Self Promotion for Introverts Nancy Ancowitz. “You tend to be processing things quietly in your head as opposed to out loud, which adds noise to the conversation.”

This allows introverts to really pay attention to what people are saying, especially in small groups or one-on-one situations.

And because they really think about what they have heard, they often come to major insights quicker than others.

This habit of listening closely to other people can tip you off that someone is more introverted than they first appear.

6) They sometimes get overstimulated

Being an introvert has its challenges as well as its rewards. One of them is a tendency to become overstimulated, especially in loud or noisy environments.

Introverts may struggle with bright lights, loud noise, and hectic environments. That may mean they try to avoid places like nightclubs, amusement parks, and big concerts.

Instead, they may prefer a quiet dinner or to hang out at a friend’s house rather than going out somewhere noisy for the night.

In an overstimulating environment, introverts may become agitated and even panic. So if you know someone who often has trouble in crowded places, consider the possibility it’s because they are an introvert.

7) They are slow to share personal information

These days, we’re all encouraged to share every detail of our lives on social media. And it’s true that sharing our thoughts and feelings with friends helps create powerful social bonds.

However, knowing when to share aspects of your inner life is a tricky balance that all of us struggle with from time to time.

Introverts are often very private people. When it comes to sharing details about themselves, they often err on the side of undersharing rather than oversharing.

So if you sometimes feel like you need to drag details out of someone you know, it might be because they are an introvert.

On the other hand, if they do decide to share things with you, you should feel honored, because that’s something introverts usually only do with people they feel very close to.

8) They observe more than most people

Because they don’t feel any need to be the center of attention, and in fact often would rather avoid drawing a lot of attention to themselves, introverts tend to be highly observant.

Several studies demonstrate that introverts may be more tuned to their environment and more observant than extroverts.

It makes sense, if you think about it. Introverts prefer the shadows to the limelight, and will sit back and observe while others are talking. This allows them to sharpen their powers of observation and makes them more observant than those around them.

9) They are selective in their social engagements

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that introverts are shy. Some of them are, but lots of them can be plenty outgoing.

However, because they need time alone to recharge their social batteries, introverts will often be very selective about how they spend their free time.

They may go to big events where their presence would be missed, such as weddings, birthdays, and work functions. But they may not be as willing to go for something less important like Friday drinks after work, for example.

The important thing to remember is that this doesn’t mean that they don’t like people or that they are antisocial. It just means that they need to conserve their energy by limiting how much time they spend around other people.

After all, for introverts, the most important thing is often finding enough time for themselves.

Recognizing an introvert

Lots of introverts have learned to hide their introversion behind a mask of being outgoing and social. That’s because still, despite the increased attention that this personality trait has gotten in the past few years, some people are still suspicious of introverts.

But these subtle behaviors can show you that someone is more introverted than they may at first appear. And when you notice these traits, you can help make an introvert more comfortable by not demanding they act like something they are not.

Understand that introverts need their time alone, just as extroverts need time with other people. Meet an introvert where they are, and it will go a long way toward making life easier for everyone.

Picture of Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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