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6 Misleading Assumptions You Make About Quiet People

#3. Quiet People Want To Be Left Alone

A lot of times, being quiet tends to go hand-in-hand with not going to a lot of social events, leading people to believe the quiet person doesn't like the company of other people. This is one of the reasons more outgoing people try to "help" quiet people -- because they confuse it with being withdrawn and antisocial, which most people would agree is generally unhealthy.

A certain number of people do like solitude and don't feel a great need for company, but most people have a pretty strong need for friends. It can be hard to see sometimes in the non-partying, stay-at-home types, but often they depend on friends just as much as anyone else, but just a few close ones, as opposed to keeping up with dozens of people.


An extrovert's intimate gathering of a few close friends.

One common definition of the introvert/extrovert divide is that extroverts gain energy from being around people, whereas introverts spend energy when hanging around people. So parties make introverts tired, even if they like everyone there and are having a good time. It's like playing a pickup basketball game with your friends. You might have a hell of a time, but you're going to be very tired after an hour (or in my case, a minute) and have to call it, and go home.

And you can't play every single day, it would wear you out. It doesn't mean you hate basketball or you don't like the other players, you just literally don't have the energy to do it all.

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Well, or at least it would require some bending of the space-time continuum.

Extroverts, who get amped up at parties, don't have this social energy burnout problem, and the only reason they could imagine for someone leaving is if they don't like the party or the guests, or just don't like being around people. It's hard for them to grasp that someone could have had a blast at the party and loved everyone there, but was only be able to handle an hour or two, and would have to pass on any more the rest of that week.

Needless to say, a lot of quiet people are introverts, and they do suffer from social energy drain. Sometimes what looks like a person trying to be a hermit and avoid the world is someone who's really just the same as anyone in terms of needing friends and company and distractions, but just in different quantities, and less often.

#2. Quiet People Are Mad At You

I've suggested a couple of times that quiet people may be mad at you or hate you, which is always a possibility, but this can also be a big misconception.

So it turns out everyone has a different idea of what conveys a neutral or "baseline" attitude toward someone -- like if you passed this person in the hallway, and you were neither mad at them, nor happy with them, nor had anything in particular to say to them, what you should do to indicate there is no change in your relationship.

Some people feel a smile is required, some people feel you should also say, "Hello," and some people also feel you should ask, "How's it going?" But most of these people oddly enough don't feel like they should stay around long enough to hear the answer. Anyway, for them, the "baseline" expression would be a smile.

However, some people, particularly quiet ones, feel like the correct way to indicate "everything between us is the same as when I last saw you an hour ago" is to do nothing, which makes sense from a purely logical standpoint.

There's nothing wrong with people having different ways to indicate, "We are still OK with each other!" until people forget other people might have different ways to say it. People who believe a perfunctory "How's it going?" is required can become infuriated at a person strolling by quietly under the "no news is good news" approach, convinced their silent associate is deliberately snubbing them.

The misunderstanding can extend to the actual conversation, where some people feel like a smile should be your default expression if nothing's wrong, whereas some people feel like if you don't want to express any particular emotion, you would just let your face relax. This probably ties into the introvert/extrovert energy thing, since smiling can be a small social energy drain. Unfortunately, apparently a relaxed face looks angry or sullen to some people.

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Is she angry at you? Or just resting her face?

That's probably why I got yelled at as a kid every time we left a Thanksgiving or Christmas get-together, where my mom would accuse me of putting on a "sour face" while talking to the relatives and making them think I hated them, when all I was doing was not smiling. Even when I grew up, I was surprised how many friends told me they thought I hated them when we first met, even though I only hated about half of them.

Whenever I meet strangers now I just smile all the damn time, and drink some water and take a breather when I get a chance. It's a lot less trouble than explaining all this.

#1. Quiet People Are Smarter/Deeper Than You

Obviously, this one is put forth by some quiet people themselves, in a sort of overdefensive backlash against being treated like the weird, abnormal ones. History has always shown that the most sensible way to fix discrimination against one group is to turn around and discriminate against the other group instead.

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What's the old saying? Two wrongs make a right?

You see that kind of attitude in articles like this one, where the author talks about how introverts are "more intelligent, more reflective, more independent, more level-headed, more refined, and more sensitive than extroverts," and how extroverts' conversation is "98-percent-content-free talk."

Or take this blog, which suggests you "feel bad for extraverts or as I like to call them: the life-disadvantaged."

It's normal to be kind of resentful when you're misunderstood, and it's normal to feel like the universe should make it up to you by giving you some kind of positive trait to make up for it. I'm not sure if I should blame comic books for the common narrative of "everyone always treated me like I was weird and different but it turns out this weirdness is actually because I have special powers that make me better than them," but it seems like everyone wants to play that card these days.

Marvel Directory
The X-Men are actually not as good a metaphor for real life as you would think.

The same arguments we're always making about how this or that trait of an introvert or quiet person isn't wrong, just different, applies in reverse to extroverts. Maybe introverts don't understand why extroverts need to talk so much or why they need so many friends and social events, but that's not wrong either, it's just different.

CultofMac.com
You know, like Apple products.

I don't buy that introverts are necessarily smarter, either. I've met a ton of quiet, introverted people that were dumb as bricks. I do think it's a lot easier to look smart when you don't talk as much, because of that whole kung fu master vibe, and because anything stupid you think is less likely to come out of your mouth. On the other hand, I think there's some virtue in being willing to take risks and say things that might be wrong, as long as you're brave enough to fess up to and correct your mistake afterward.

Basically, nobody's wrong, except for people who aren't willing to accept the other group of people they don't understand. And Bronies.

For more from Christina, check out 6 Bad Ideas in Video Game Mash-Ups We'll Probably See Next and 5 Reasons Parenting Is One Place We Shouldn't Imitate China.

Check out The All-New Cracked.com Zombie Page to see why the introverts will last longer than you.

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