Why do most people not understand introverts? originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question.

I've been there. I think there are several drivers of this rather annoying and all-too-common dismissive behavior:

  1. People don't know introverts exist: Do you remember the first time you learned about "introverts" and "extroverts?" I do; I was in my 30s. I took an MBTI test and I thought damn, that makes a lot of sense! Middle school would have been easier if I had known about introverts. I just thought I was weird. Introvert is not vernacular, but it is getting better.
  2. People don't understand introverts: People falsely think introvert is synonymous with shy, and that's all. It isn't true, and it isn't all. Introverts get energy from within and lose energy when they have too much external stimulation. They recharge by removing or reducing external stimulation and by nurturing their own thoughts and feelings. Introverts are more likely to be shy, but not all of them, and being shy is only a small part of being introverted. And things like this: TIME Magazine Cover: The Power of Shyness - Feb. 6, 2012 perpetuate misunderstanding. A good article, but again, it overwhelmingly connects shy with introvert.
  3. People don't know how to deal with introverts: Let's be honest, introverts don't easily show or say what they are thinking. We live a private existence, keep our thoughts to ourselves, and withhold deep emotional pondering. In an reinforcement -happy society like ours, the absence of this can leave people confused and bewildered. They react, poorly.
  4. People assume the worst: Introverts are quiet at times, thoughtful, non-reactive. I'm an introvert, but even I find people who act this way occasionally off-putting. I wrongly assume they are arrogant, or vain. Completely unfair, I know.
  5. America is a very social nation: I did not appreciate this until I moved to the UK. In the UK being alone on purpose is completely acceptable. In the U.S., it is all about barbeques, outside, team events. Being social is the natural way; if you are not that, you must be different.
  6. Being social is more visible: Introverts don't go on about all the social activities we're not doing because we are alone, and all the people we're not meeting because we're alone. But we're here, we're just quiet.

I know it is tough, and not fair, but have you tried explaining your preferences to your colleagues? Tell them what matters, and why. Open up the discussion before you dismiss them like you feel they are dismissing you.

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