In a world that often seems dominated by extroverts, introverts can sometimes find themselves in some tricky social situations.
While extroverts steal the limelight with their charm and presence, introverts bring so much to the table, including empathy, dedication, and emotional depth.
As we make our way through different social interactions — whether it’s a cocktail party in the city or a chilled-out BBQ at a friend’s house — we should be conscious of the fact that introverts sometimes exist on different social wavelengths.
In this article, we’ll cover 10 things you should never say to an introvert.
1) “You’re being a bit antisocial.”
It’s a common misconception that introverts are antisocial people. Rather than being against socializing altogether, to introverts, it’s quality over quantity.
This is usually because larger, more intense social situations can be massively draining for introverts. Not because they dislike people, but because they process information deeply and need time to recharge their social batteries afterwards.
For this reason, introverts are often great at nurturing deep and meaningful relationships.
So, instead of saying to an introvert, “You’re being antisocial” — potentially alienating them and making them feel like an outsider — respect that each person has their own way of being present in social settings.
2) “You just need to get out more.”
It might seem like a simple suggestion, but telling an introvert that they need to “get out more” is like telling them to rewire who they are. It’s just not possible.
Being introverted is not a choice or a lifestyle, it’s an ingrained part of someone’s character.
Introverts are wired to process information differently from extroverts, so they can find alone time rejuvenating and feel overwhelmed in stimulating or crowded environments.
Encouraging an introvert to “get out more” overlooks the fact that they may prefer quieter, more intimate social experiences. Suggesting they change their ways also dismisses all their unique strengths.
3) “Do you not like people?”
Many people often believe that introverts don’t like people because they are more selective about their social interactions.
In reality, introverts indeed like people — they simply tend to seek out deeper relationships. Which can be a beautiful thing indeed.
Their connections, though fewer in number, hold immense significance in their life.
4) “I bet you’re fun at parties.”
A few years ago, after a work meeting, I noticed a senior colleague remark on a junior colleague’s quiet, shy demeanor during the group discussion.
The junior colleague didn’t have much to respond with, and in reply, the senior colleague quipped: “Well, I bet you’re real fun at parties.”
I’ll never forget this sarcastic remark, as it totally minimized my introverted colleague’s social strengths and left them feeling like they weren’t contributing much to the workplace, and in turn, weren’t being seen as a team player.
In reality, this shy colleague could have been lots of fun in social settings, it wasn’t the other colleague’s call to make. Plus being shy doesn’t equal being a bore.
In general, it’s best to refrain from making presumptive statements like this — you really don’t know what’s going on inside someone’s inner world.
5) “How do you make friends?”
Building relationships might look a little different for introverts, but that doesn’t always mean they struggle with it.
So, when someone asks an introvert, “How do you make friends?” it can come across as judgmental or dismissive of their approach to social connections.
Interestingly, a lot of introverts have their own ways of approaching friendship — ways that are just as valid as those of extroverts.
For example, introverts often establish friendships based on common interests, hobbies, or passions. They gravitate toward activities that allow for meaningful experiences, such as book clubs, art classes, or niche online communities.
These shared interests can be a base for long-lasting, mutually-fulfilling connections.
Introverts often take more time to build friendships, preferring to establish trust gradually. They are more likely to invest in deeper connections rather than rushing into superficial, short-lived relationships.
6) “Don’t be shy.”
It’s funny how shyness is often interpreted as a negative trait, rather than it being a sign of authenticity, self-acceptance, and an unwillingness to change oneself to meet social demands.
There are many more ways in which shyness is a virtue.
Introverts who are naturally reserved often possess qualities such as thoughtfulness, introspection, and strong listening skills.
A Finnish study found that introverts have high social engagement in their learning.
In other areas of life, many introverts find strength in their shyness. They often excel in professional tasks that require focus, patience, and a calm demeanor.
In workplaces, for example, introverts can be highly valuable team members, lending a more balanced perspective to group situations.
Telling an introvert “Don’t be shy” is not only disrespectful, it’s completely unnecessary.
Shyness isn’t something that can be switched on or off — it’s an emotional response to social situations that can vary in intensity from person to person.
7) “Why are you so quiet?”
Asking an introvert why they are quiet can make them feel like there’s something wrong with their silence. It’s important to respect their need for peace.
It can imply that quietness is odd or requires an explanation, which can be hurtful to introverts who just have a different way of engaging with the world.
Just remember: their silence is not necessarily reflective of a problem, it can be a sign that they are processing their thoughts or enjoying a moments of peace.
8) “Why don’t you smile more?”
It’s important to recognize that not all feelings are visible on the surface.
Introverts, in particular, may feel emotions deeply but not necessarily show them through facial expressions like smiling.
The expectation for introverts, or anyone else, to smile more can be invasive. This kind of request infringes on a person’s right to control their own body.
Respecting boundaries and personal choice should always be a priority in any social exchange.
9) “Did something happen to you to make you this shy?”
Introversion is sometimes a natural personality trait that people are born with, so it doesn’t need to be equated with past trauma or negative experiences.
Making a comment like “Did something happen to you to make you this shy?” can stigmatize introverts by implying that there is something “wrong” with them.
In any situation, making personal inquiries about someone’s past experiences can be unwelcome and may trigger distress.
It’s important to note that not everyone is comfortable sharing their personal histories.
10) “I bet you come out of your shell when you drink!”
Clinical research has found that extroverts have higher rates of heavy drinking than introverts. As such, some of these habits may be pushed onto individuals who are not super comfortable with this behaviour.
This can be in the form of comments like, “I bet you’re a totally different person when you drink!” or “Here, have a drink, it’ll loosen you up.”
Suggesting that introverts only open up when they’re under the influence implies that they need substances to be sociable, or to meet society’s expectation of what is considered “normal.”
Stereotypes like this oversimplify human psychology and behavior. People, including introverts, have intricate personalities shaped by plenty of different factors.
Assuming that alcohol is the only way for an introvert to be sociable ignores this complexity.
Also, hinting that introverts should lean on alcohol to open up reinforces the risky idea that substances are necessary to cope with social situations, and it can be a form of peer pressure, making introverted individuals feel obliged to drink when they really don’t want to.
To sum things up, navigating conversations with introverts requires sensitivity and empathy. Avoiding these 10 phrases can go a long way in building understanding and respect.
Remember, introverts all have their unique strengths and preferences — and they can make fantastic friends.