6 People Skills for Introverts Who Prefer to Be Alone

Do you feel “forced” to socialize and talk to others at work when you just want to be alone? Whether you call yourself an introvert or a hermit, you may have to develop the people skills you need to do your job. Here’s how to deal with meetings and other work-related duties for people with introverted personality traits.

First, though, know that wanting to be alone because you’re drained by conversations and people doesn’t mean you’re weird or abnormal. You’re an introvert, that’s all! Being introverted is more common than you think, but many people don’t realize they’re introverts. And even if they do recognize their introverted personality traits, they may not want to admit they’re introverted. Why? Because people who want to be alone are viewed negatively in many cultures. It’s not easy for introverts to admit they prefer their own space – much less that need to develop people skills.

“Most Americans, whether introverted or extroverted, have learned to look like extroverts,” writes psychologist Laurie Helgoe in Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength. However, 57% of the U.S. population are introverts or have mostly introverted personality traits – which means that many of us are ignoring or suppressing our true personalities. Also, when true introverts are alone they’re not thinking about improving their people skills.

First things first. To find out if you’re an introvert or an extrovert, take this free, fast test for introverted personality traits. Then, check out the Big Five Personality Traits for insight into your own motivations and actions.

Your Big Five Personality Traits

Your personality affects every goal you have in life: personal, professional, financial, and even spiritual. Before we go through a few people skills for introverts, let’s look at the Big Five Personality Traits: conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, extroversion and openness. These personality traits affect almost everything you do – including your career, relationships, family, and even your health.

This brief description of the Big Five Personality Traits includes how they affect your life. They’re not quite “people skills” but they will help you see yourself and others more clearly. Whether you’re an introvert who likes to be alone or an extrovert or leads parades, you will benefit from knowing your personality traits.

1. Conscientiousness. Organization, discipline, excellent performance, and dedication (especially in the workplace) are the hallmarks of this personality trait. Conscientiousness increases as both men and women age, especially during their 20’s. This personality trait helps keep people focused on the details.

6 People Skills for Introverts Who Want to Be Alone
People Skills for Introverts Who Want to Be Alone

2. Agreeableness. Generous, helpful, friendly, pleasant and easy to be around; these social people usually have strong relationships (and are often extroverts). Researchers found that agreeableness increases during your 30’s, in both men and women. If you’re an agreeable person, you can get other people on side. You like being alone, but you’re happy being with others too. You’re agreeable :-)

3. Neuroticism. Woody Allen exemplifies this personality trait; he worries excessively and seems emotionally unstable and anxious. Neurotics are more likely to struggle with depression and sadness. This trait declines in women as they age, and stays the same in men. Introverts aren’t by definition neurotic, but their personality traits affect how they related to others. Introverts prefer to be alone because they’re drained by conversations and people; if they’re in jobs that force them to interact regularly with others, they’d be happier and healthier if they developed people skills.

4. Openness. Honest, available, curious and willing to try new things are the earmarks of openness. Both introverts and extroverts who are open are more likely to employ insight and imagination as part of their daily routine. This personality trait declines slightly as both men and women age.

5. Extroversion. Extroverts are talkative and assertive; they get energy from groups and being in the spotlight. The more, the merrier! Extroverts aren’t people who like to be alone; in fact, extroverts find solitude and quiet times draining. Extroversion declines for women and doesn’t change in men as they age.

These Big Five Personality Traits can and do change. Age and circumstances change them, but mood doesn’t affect these personality traits. Mood, on the other hand, can affect how much time an introvert wants to be alone. If you’re like me – an introvert who is forced to be with people more often than she likes – then you’ll find these people skills helpful.

While we’re talking about personality traits and people skills, here’s one of my favorite articles: What Your Favorite Dog Breed Reveals About Your Personality. It’s not based on scientific or psychological research, but it’s interesting!

6 People Tips for Introverts Who Prefer Being Alone

Introverts have an inward focus, don’t enjoy being the center of attention, and find groups of people draining. Introverts are private people, and would rather be at home alone or with another person or two than at large parties or events.

How, then, do introverts navigate meetings, conferences, and other work responsibilities?

1. Meet clients one-on-one

If you’re an introvert, you find that groups of people drain your energy and even make you feel uncomfortable. Instead of forcing yourself to socialize and network with clients and colleagues in big group settings, create ways to network with individuals or in small groups. This will ensure you’re more comfortable and relaxed. Your demeanor will positively affect the people around you, decreasing the need for “people skills.” You at your most relaxed, comfortable self will help you connect with clients and colleagues naturally. Instead of feeling like you want to be alone, you may find yourself making more meaningful connections at work.

2. Reward yourself for overcoming obstacles

People Skills for Introverts Who Want to Be Alone
People Skills for Introverts Who Prefer to Be Alone

If you go outside your comfort zone and push yourself to network with clients and coworkers in a group setting, find ways to reward yourself. Maybe you’ll work from home one day (an extra special treat for introverts who want to be alone instead of developing people skills :-) ). What is your version of a reward? The more positive associations you create when you overcome obstacles, the easier it’ll be.

As an introvert, you can be your own best friend or your worst enemy,” writes Laurie Helgoe in Introvert Power. “The good news is we generally like our own company, a quality that extroverts often envy. We find comfort in solitude and know how to soothe ourselves. Even our willingness to look at ourselves critically is often helpful. But, we can go too far. We can hoard responsibility and overlook the role others play. We can kick ourselves when we’re down.”

3. Socialize with other introverts – both in and outside work functions

Developing people skills is easier when you’re with other introverts who prefer to be alone. It can be draining for introverts to spend time with extroverts; on the flip side it can be energizing for introverts to spend time with other introverts. Recharging your batteries includes spending enough time alone (which is different for each introvert), connecting with people who understand you, and accepting your introverted personality traits.

4. Develop strong team relationships with extroverts

As an introvert who wants to be alone, you may find it challenging to achieve your goals because success requires other people. Extroverts, on the other hand, enjoy making contacts, meeting people, networking and working the room at all types of functions. A great team has a combination of both introverted and extroverted people. Both introverts and extroverts have people skills; their differences can make them excellent business partners and work colleagues. This can be a healthy, symbiotic relationship for both introverts and extroverts. For example, most extroverts don’t enjoy working on tasks that take them away from people. Since introverts prefer to be alone, they might be able to easily pick up those responsibilities.

If you’re feeling like you’re less valuable to a business or team because you’re an introvert who prefers to be alone, note that learning people skills is important for all types of personalities. In other words, don’t assume that people skills come automatically or naturally to extroverts.

5. Learn how to make small talk

Ugh. As an introvert who wants to be left alone, I know how difficult and boring small talk is! That’s why it’s a people skill. It needs to be learned because it doesn’t come naturally for everyone. Fortunately, small talk is a skill that you can practice at home, around the water cooler at work, at family functions, and standing in line at the grocery store. Small talk helps you get to know colleagues and clients better – and lets them know you better, too. Knowing how to make small talk effectively is surprisingly powerful, and can create connections that seem superficial but are actually quite personal.

Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people,” writes Helgoe in Introvert Power. “We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.

6. Find creative ways to market yourself

Sometimes you have to leave your comfort zone and doing the “extroverted” thing: make speeches, teach classes, facilitate meetings, or even make television or radio appearances. But even if you have to interact with groups, you don’t need to master people or networking skills. Accept that you are an introvert who wants to be alone. Don’t force yourself to work in ways you’re not comfortable with. Instead, be creative in your relationships at work. Consider making online appearances (eg, teleseminars or webcasts) or using your website or blog to attract new clients.

People Tips for Introverts Who Want to Be Alone

For an introvert, a party or group event does not promise meaningful interaction,” writes Laurie Helgoe in Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength. “In fact, an introvert knows that the party will leave her feeling more alone and alienated. Her social preference may be to stay home and reflect on a conversation with a friend, call that friend, and come to an understanding that is meaningful to her. Or she might indulge in the words of a favorite author, feeling a deep connection with a person she has never met. From the perspective of a partygoer, this introvert may appear to be asocial, when, in fact, the introvert is interacting in a much different way.”

If you find ways to succeed that highlight your natural introverted personality traits, you won’t have to struggle to learn people skills. You’ll just be yourself, but with the goal of reaching new clients and creating healthy relationships with coworkers.

If you’re in the wrong job and don’t want to polish your people skills, read Best Jobs for Introverts and People Who Like to Be Alone.

Do you have any people tips for introverts who like to be alone? Feel free to share below. All comments, big and little, are welcome. Even from extroverts who prefer to big groups and don’t need people skills ;-)

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36 thoughts on “6 People Skills for Introverts Who Prefer to Be Alone”

  1. I am 54 and absorbed the old school Myers-Briggs Type Indicator for understanding personalities a long time ago. I feel this tool is more complicated than the Big Five for evaluating an individual’s make-up and motivation. It requires more perception, skill, and time to decipher its traits’ meanings and interpret a fit for the individual.

    Your people skills for introverts who want to be alone are interesting but I am more interested in the personality traits. To me, the Big Five personality traits method is a simplified checklist for hurried professionals wanting, or needing to analyze someone quickly. And I think that is a poor method for evaluating a client and his or her needs. Big Five is loaded with key words that have negative connotations and societal judgments.

    Take the word “Neuroticism.” It is hot. It is embedded with negative connotations. People I know want to avoid that word. They do not want that word anywhere near them. It is a word that means “nervous breakdown.” Who wants a “nervous breakdown” marring their life’s record?

    What about the connotation of the word “Extraversion?” 80% of the world are that, according to most experts. What does the majority feel about the minority classed introvert? Big Five uses the word “Extraversion” solo. From it, introversion is introduced, suggesting that it is an inferior trait social style. Big Five defines introversion as a lessening degree of extraversion. This analysis implies extraversion is the healthy personality type and we introverts know that extraverts want to somehow make us normal, like them. That is society’s majority-ruled decision. Like sheep, all go along with it and introverts end up feeling like misfits.

    Through Myers-Briggs’ explanation of introverts, not only did I learn to understand them, how they operate in the real world, how they manage interpersonal relationships, but I also learned how extroverts ticks. Myers-Briggs educated me in well-defined, concise words. I saw how both preferences can get along without judging the other. Big Five’s evaluation method appears to be less clear and has a judgmental bias. It contains no method of harmony between the two types. It uses words that create negativism for the introvert. Its choice of defining words for the extraverted perpetuates the societal connotation that 20% of people are just not as valid as the other 80%’s.

    Word labels carry breathtaking impact and a vast number of societal biases. Very few people are immune to this emotional hit. Society’s bias towards you when it hears your label, is impossible to ignore. Big Five’s method of evaluating personalities is overly broad, too simple, and too hot-worded to take seriously. If you do take this test or are evaluated by someone administering it, remember to be aware of how the labels affect your feelings and your self-image. Remember, its words will never be you.

    As for word labels, connotations, and biases, you were set up. I told you my age which instantly put an image inside your head. I am sure words like old, frumpy, glasses, set-in her-ways, outdated, grandmother, may have popped into your head. I also told you Myers-Briggs was a superior personality evaluation tool. Did you imagine me college educated, a professional involved in a field like psychology, working in an office overlooking some city skyline, and that I have great benefits and strong retirement plan?

    Keep wondering.

  2. i think i am introverted. i have no people skills and i just want to be left alone. i prefer my own company and have nothing to say. i think you can change your personality but i would not want to. it would take a lot of time definitely in my case.

  3. Meeting clients one-to-one is one of the best networking tips, whether or not you’re an introvert. Personal relationships are amazingly effective for your career.

  4. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hello Jerry,

    Thanks for your comments, and for your link to more tips for networking successfully for shy, quiet people!

    One thing I’ve noticed lately is that social media (Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook) is totally draining me. I didn’t think that online interaction is just as exhausting for introverts as in-person interaction is, but it is.

    I just want to write. And answer comments on Quips and Tips!

    Blessings,
    Laurie

  5. @Laurie
    Very helpful and informative. You set down some really great guidelines to commit to action. Being an introvert myself, having steps to follow in a systematic manner seems to make networking a little easier.

  6. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hmmmm….thanks for your thoughts on introverted and extroverted personality traits, Ann! I don’t agree that personality traits aren’t important, though…I think personality can override what you want and how you want it.

  7. What a thread and what opinions. I can just laugh. Someone defined the people on introvert and extrovert and then everyone is following the definition and how one or the other is successful or not. How come people do not get it? Has nothing to do with your personality but what you want and how you want it! For God’s sake people :) I am an extrovert and introvert too, in different situations with different people. What about it?

  8. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Kikie,

    Yes, it’s definitely possible for two introverts to fall in love and get married! I’m an introvert, my husband is an introvert, and our marriage is better now than the day we married five years ago.

    It sounds like there’s more going on with your boyfriend than “just” being an introvert. If he doesn’t like who he is, then it doesn’t matter if he’s introverted, extroverted, or a Martian.

    The issue isn’t your personality traits, I don’t think. It’s his self-perception.

    Maybe letting go of him is the healthiest thing you can do in the long run, as heartbreaking as it is in the short run. Maybe he needs time to learn how to love and accept himself. Until he does that, he won’t be able to loe and accept anyone else.

    Wishing you all the best,
    Laurie

  9. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Lei,

    I’m so sorry I missed your comment! You asked a fantastic question.

    Let me know if you’re still around — if you are, I’d be happy to give you my thoughts.

    My short answer is no, I don’t think pretending to be an extrovert will get you what you want. You CAN find happiness and fulfillment as an introvert!

    Laurie

  10. Hi Laurie,
    Is it possible for 2 introverts to fall in love and get married? My boyfriend decided that we should separate because we are both introverts and will only be sad. Is this true? Well he is an unstable introvert and I am stable but, it has occurred to me that he hates himself for being an introvert. I am hurt.

  11. I’ve been looking up a lot of information about being an introvert. Your articles are helpful in recognizing that I am a definite introvert. I do feel that your article is suggesting that introverts behave more like extroverts. No, I am not attacking your article or you however, it seems that introvert personalities are less likely to get the same job an extrovert is also applying for. Employers seem to only want people who will socialize with anyone. Most jobs are sales, sales need representatives, these representatives need to be outgoing, energetic, talkative to secure sales. Now where does that leave the detail-minded, punctual, articulate, diligent introvert? I can honestly say that I only landed my current job because i pretended to be an extrovert on that interview…I was in desperate need for a paycheck! No 3 years later I am miserable, but can’t quit because jobs that suit me are hard to come by. To sum it up, would you agree that pretending to be an extrovert is more likely to get you what you want?
    –confused

  12. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Jay,

    Thanks for your thoughts — I haven’t met many people who went from extroverted to introverted (except for one friend of mine!). I like your encouragement for people to know themselves, be themselves, and make conscious decisions to act. Good advice! :-)

  13. Hi all
    The subject of introverts and extroverts has always been interesting in many fields and Laurie’s articel certainly hightlights many things that introverts encounter. I am an introvert but was once an extrovert. Yes, this can happen. What changed me it is not important but what the change has done for me is to to experience both traits. My occupation involves numerous networking and presenations and the pre-anxieties before either of these events are massive [inc’s extreme shyness]. How do I get through it all? By making a conscious decision and having the insight of self. We can read as many books on self halp as we want, but at the end of the day, it is up to the self to make the difference. Know thy self, accept thy self and if you really want to do something, make a conscious decision.

  14. Thanks for the advice Laurie!

    Im slowly realizing to let things evolve with my family. And
    That is a great tip on socializing, I will keep trying. I’m thankful for the way God made all of us!

    Best Wishes Introverts!

  15. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Also, NotBoringAtAll, to socialize successfully and meet new people, I suggest doing things that expand on what you love to do alone. For instance, I belong to two book clubs and I enjoy them so much. I get to read and talk about the books — and I love hearing others’ perspectives on the characters, plots, themes, etc. So, joining groups that revolve around your interests is a great way to meet people and get out of the house. It’s also a great networking tip for introverts! :-)

  16. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi NotBoringAtAll,

    Thanks for your comment — I’m glad the introvert and extrovert articles helped! You sound like me; I am comfortable and enjoy being with others but just for short periods of time), but I love love LOVE my time to myself.

    Congratulations on your girls, I hope the birth is wonderful.

    Regarding your questions: your family doesn’t necessarily need to understand you to love and accept you…and it may be futile to try to get them to understand you! Instead of trying to explain yourself and your introverted personality traits, it may be better to adopt a “live and let live” and a “let me be” policy — in a light-hearted, friendly, loving way. That’s what I do :-)

    Regarding your question about a successful relationship, my answer turned into a whole new article called “Extroverts and Introverts in Love – How to Build Strong Relationships”. To read it, click on this link:

    Extroverts and Introverts in Love – How to Build Strong Relationships

    I’m not sure I understand your question about being too focused on him….if my article about building strong relationships doesn’t help with that question, please ask it again here or there. I definitely think partners can be too focused on each other and need “spaces in their togetherness” (a quote from the poet Rumi).

    I hope this helps!

    Best wishes,
    Laurie

  17. Hello Laurie,

    I too had a struggle a couple weeks ago and came across introverted and extroverted personalities. Your articles are such a relief to hear and I am thankful for the work that you are doing, Thank you.

    Im glad to finally found a name for me instead of weird, nonsocial, stuck up, quiet and BORING. Im introverted and have been all my life, I normally have no problem making friends because as strange as it sounds Im very outgoing also. I say what I think, I can strike up a convo and I love to particiipate in lots of activites. But I absolutely love my time to myself. I love to sleep, movies, think, research, etc. But my family has a problem with it because their extroverts obsivously!

    No doubt, Ive struggled with this, but Ive came to accept to be without certain people. I still wonder If my mom understands me. Im the oldest and my other two siblings are exactly alike: can’t stand to have a moment silence or be alone and it drives me crazy…lol

    I now stay in another state (I believe now, i moved to get away from them). I’m in a serious relationship, we have a 20month old and one on the way. 2 girls:-) But, my relationship with my boyfriend who I thought was like me when I met him, is struggling. He is constantly talking: He talks to his friends and family for hours…….everyday. If not talking on the phone, he is on facebook for hours………..I need him to socialize because I like to have time to myself. But I wish he would go out more and do his socializing. Im not a phone person which is why i believe my relationships suffer (but I can’t help it.) Its annoying for a person to want to talk, text, email, twitter, or whatever they do on phones now. Just come over and visit! or go out and visit.

    Being a mother,Lack of finances and oppurtunity keeps me in the house more than I like now, so my friend supply is really dry.I don’t have family or old highschool friends where we live. My family and friends or over 8 hours away. So I know that some of these issues have to do with me not having the access that he has. But since reading your articles, I feel he is extroverted.

    My questions are: can extroverts and introverts have successful realtionships? How can I socialize better and get my family and friends to understand me? Am I too focused on him and need to get a grip?

  18. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    I’m glad this info about introverted personality traits and successful networking helped, Total Relief! SO many introverts think there’s something wrong with them…when there’s not.

    And I’m glad you mentioned “introvert guilt” — I wrote an article on that, at a reader’s request. We shouldn’t feel guilty for needing and wanting to spend time on our own or limiting our social interactions.

    I’m with you on the quality versus quantity thing, too…

    Thanks for your comments!

    Laurie

  19. This page was a revelation. I’ve been trying to refocus myself since completing university and going out into the workforce only to find that I couldn’t (for the life of me) figure out why I so readily preferred standing back and thinking deeply in comparison to those around me who socialised at work drinks etc. There was a moment where I thought, ‘am I really just socially awkward?’

    Through my alone times, I’ve gone from putting on the ‘face’ (where I’d normally shoulder a successful extroverted front) to finally being able to realise that it’s okay to be enjoy being alone. Putting on the successful ‘face’ eventually lead to so many invitations to social outings that I honestly started to feel rather drained.

    To top it off, there was a period about a month or so ago where I honestly thought I had some sort of social phobia because I so thoroughly disliked associating with large groups of people but your post as really put things in perspective.

    In any case, thank you for putting this up. I just want to add that for those people who feel ‘introvert guilt’ about not socialising when society has conditioned you to thinking that you should, I’ve found it handy to consider the concept of quality versus quantity. I’d pick quality any day :)

  20. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Anna,

    I’m sorry to hear you’re having issues with your extroverted and introverted friends — and especially sorry to hear that it feels like the end for you!

    One tip I have is to remember that you need to do what makes you feel most comfortable. It doesn’t work for you to talk to everybody and pretend to have fun…so you need to stop doing that. Your friends’ advice might work for some people, but it doesn’t work for you.

    You might try to figure out what the issues you had with your friends. It sounds like you got along well with them. What changed? Getting to the root of that might help you reconnect with them as friends, or make new friends.

    I also suggest finding natural ways to connect with people. That is, if you like reading books then you could join a book club. If you like doing puzzles or playing games, see if there’s a bridge or Pictionary group in your area. Focus on the activities you like doing, and you’re more likely to meet people you have things in common with. Plus, when you’re doing things you like, you feel good and are happy…and this makes you awesome to be around!

    I hope this helps a little…

    Warm regards,
    Laurie

  21. Hi Laurie,

    Professionally I am fine.. I could have all business talks.. I was the top sales telemarketer.

    But in social life I am struggling.I have 2 best friendz that all ppl i talk to in my residence. But I think 1 extro and one is intro, but both understand me very well. When I talk to them, I talk to them 4 hours.. and enjoy tat. But lately had issues with them.. It feels like end of life..

    Their advice to is to talk to everybody, when I had issues with my frz. I tried talking to everybody , but i know deep down i was faking it… and pretending to have fun when i am actual not.. Any tips would be helpful..

    Thanks,
    Anna

  22. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Lost and Introverted,

    There’s nothing wrong with getting professional help to improve your social skills and self-confidence! If you weren’t taught to socialize successfully, or if it doesn’t come naturally for you (socializing doesn’t come naturally to most introverts), then how will you learn it?

    Making conversation, networking, and being comfortable with people is a skill that takes practice. Some people do it naturally — just like some people are natural musicians, mathematicians, writers, actors, gardeners, etc.

    So you’re not a natural conversationalist or people person…it’s OKAY! It sounds like you’re tired of not having people skills, which means it’s time to start developing them. You’re in a good spot, my friend. Making conversation — making friends — is something you can learn.

    You could talk to a counselor if you think there are underlying issues that are hampering your ability to socialize. Or, you could take a “how to socialize for shy people” course, workshop, or retreat (or something along those lines). Or you could do both (counseling and a people skills class).

    Your university might offer both types of help — you’ll have to do a little digging to find what’s available. You know what your problem is, you know the consequences of that problem…now you just need to find the solution!

    One last thing: my mom gave me Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” book when I was about 13. I was mildly insulted at first, but as I read it I realized how valuble it was! If you can find a copy of that book, I highly recommend it.

    One more last thing: it’s great to be introverted — I wouldn’t try to change your personality traits. You don’t want to be a different person; you just want to learn how to make conversation, make friends, and make your way up in the music world.

    Good luck, Lost and Introverted….and may you be Found and Happily Introverted soon! Feel free to come back anytime, and update me.

    All best,
    Laurie

  23. Hey Laurie,

    Well…I have to say your article is inspirational. I’ve just transferred to a California college, finishing up my associates, and working on transferring to the university. I’ve been here about a year and have no friends out here. Within this past year I’ve become very familiar with my personality (or lack there of), and my ability to make small talk or even talk at all around people is non-existent. My major is music, and when I transfer I will be focusing on Music Industry Studies and as an introvert this terrifies me. For example, I was invited to go to a “party” for a kinda big music group here in LA, this group has worked with many huge signed artists and I was going to intern for them. It was a pool party at a very very nice hotel in downtown LA. I arrived on time, gave the woman who invited me a hug and walked around introducing myself to people. I told myself before I went to this party that I was going to introduce myself to a couple people, which was a huge hump to pass in itself.

    So, As I walk around the party and introduced myself to all the “beautiful” people, I got very little responses some even walked away when I’m talking. After a few times of this, I texted the lady who invited me and said “I’m sorry I have to leave, I have an appointment.” She never responded back and I never heard from her again. To this day I think about all of this and it frightens and disgusts me at the same time. WHY CAN’T I MEET PEOPLE? It’s so frustrating to not have social skills and I am even considering “professional” help to deal with it. My lack of people skills has been detrimental to me my entire life, in high school, middle school, and even with family. Everyone always says “What’s wrong with her?” When I go into my room, or in the corner and listen to music, when there are large groups around. I’m a friggin hermit!

    You know…Now that I sit here and think about it, I’ve been successful in waitressing, not that that is a huge accomplishment, but that takes people skills. Even in job interviews I’m very successful. I just don’t understand why can’t I socialize…

    I’m sorry for the long post, or should I say venting spree, but I’m very confused and frightened that once I get my degree I will be too scared to use it. Thanks Laurie.

  24. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for commenting, Roger. I was the same way, always thinking that introverted personality traits are negative or “bad.” I, too, remember taking personality tests and manipulating my answers so I could be somehow better — more outgoing, friendly, cheerful, or happy! If only someone had told me that it’s okay and even wonderful to be introverted…

    Good for you, for realizing that you’re an introvert. The ssoner you accept and embrace yourself for who you are — and realize that you’re normal — the better off you’ll be! You’ll be free to achieve your goals in a way that feels right to you.

    I’m glad this article helped — and I hope you keep learning about how wonderful being an introvert is :-)

    Laurie

  25. Hi Laurie,

    This article and many others that I’m reading today make me feel a little scared but alot better at the same time. I am the son of a great salesperson who has written books on Closing and is a renowned trainer in the sales industry. My entire life, I have looked at intorverts with a negative connotation because of the fear of becoming less successful in the sales industry.

    Now, I find myself at a crossroads and have recently uncovered the fact that I have been running from the fact that I’m introverted. I can recall the first Introvert/Extrovert test I did in high school. Thinking back on it, I desperately wanted to manipulate it like I have many others to make it appear that I’m extroverted when I wasn’t.

    Last night, I attended a young professionals event that my wife has started. As overwhelming as it was for me, I stood up and went. I became so overwhelmed that I felt I had to address this issue today and find out once and for all how introverted I am. This was the second test I took and both have come back as I expected, extremely introverted.

    Reading your column and tips so far have really rang true in my head and make me feel alot better about it though. Great column and I will keep reading along. Also, you can email me updates if you like.

    Thanks,
    Roger P

  26. Good questions about introverts — let me answer the second one first, because it’s easier!

    Yes, I believe there IS a point when introversion (or any personality characteristic, habit, thought, or activity) becomes a mental health issue. It may or may not be a clear, identifiable point in time — because though there are tipping points, many mental health issues and life problems grow gradually (not all at once).

    If your introverted personality characteristics are causing you to have trouble with normal everyday life, then there’s a problem. If your introverted traits are affecting your health, then there’s a problem.

    Precious, my answer to this turned out to be so long, I turned it into an article! It’s called When Introverted Personality Traits Become Problematic. Here’s the link: https://theadventurouswriter.com/blog/quipstipsachievinggoals/mind-soul/when-introverted-personality-traits-become-problematic/

    Regarding your first question (“Is it common for introverts to function in the far extreme of extroverted and introverted qualities?”)

    I don’t have research data to back my opinion, but I believe most introverts are in the middle of the “Extremely Introverted” and “Hardly Introverted At All” scale. I’d say that there are few introverts at the far extreme — and I’d also venture a guess that they may not be as emotionally healthy as those in the middle of the scale. We need connection and human contact to stay healthy, no matter how introverted we are.

    Precious, I admire your thoughts of seeing a counselor to get it straight! I saw a counselor for a year, and I often wish I could go back to her. It’s such a luxury, to be able to talk about who you are and solve your problems with a trained professional. Caveat: you have to connect with him or her to make counseling effective.

    One last thing: when was the last time you took a vacation? Sometimes totally unplugging from your job, home, community, and even your friends is enough to energize you for another few months, or even a year. Take a weekend or week-long retreat to recharge your batteries. When I do that, I come back hungering for human connection — which is so healthy!

    I hope I’ve helped, I thank you for your questions, and hope to hear from you again!

    Laurie

  27. Laurie,
    Thank you for your article and for “reaching” out to the introverted community. I understand that most people have both extroverted and introverted traits, but I’m feeling a bit “schizo” in reference to those extremes (so much so that I’m thinking about seeking counseling). I am an actor, director, stage manager, professor of theatre, etc. (and enjoy what I do). So, as a result of my work, I seemingly spend most of my time with people. Yet, this time is rather tolerable because I’m in my artistic element. But, outside of that (with the exception of my family), it often takes what feels like all the mental & physical strength in me to deal, communicate, and socialize with others – even my close friends. When I do have down time, I can stay in the house for days. I enjoy being “out” at times, but become easily drained when I see students and associates and have to talk (thank God I’m not really famous :)). When I feel like I have to “act” like a true extrovert, the effort is particularly exhausting because I feel I’m “working” when I do not want to be working. Now, I said all of that to ask two, quick questions. Firstly, is it common for introverts to function in the far extreme of extroverted and introverted qualities? Secondly,is there a clear point where introversion becomes a mental health issue?
    Thanks

  28. I wonder how you figured out that I’m an introvert? Even people who know me in “real life” often think I’m extroverted, because I have no problem making conversation and being with other people. I like people, and I like spending time with them.

    But, I’d prefer to be by myself or with just one other person, and I get drained when I spend too much time with others.

    People with introverted personality traits often think they’re weird or abnormal, until they learn that it’s just one way of being.

    Thanks for your comment, introverty! You hit the nail on the head. And if there’s a specific aspect of introverted personality traits that you want to read about, please let me know. I’d love to research and write about it.

    All best,
    Laurie

  29. lol. when u were asking the readers to guess whether u r an introvert or extrovert, i knew exactly somehow you are an introvert. too bad chris didn’t see that angle. ;)

    well wat i can say is kudos to u for this article. i’m amazed that such psychology research exists. really it feels good that you’re not alone in this world. :)

  30. Thanks for your comment, Cassie! You’re right: most of us have a combination of introverted and extroverted personality traits.

    I don’t think introverts “have no lives” — in fact, I believe just the opposite. Introverts often have rich, deep inner and outer lives…especially if they accept and are comfortable with their personality traits. Fighting or being ashamed of introverted personality traits can be unhealthy.

    Cheers,
    Laurie

  31. ok if u think about it everyone is both an introvert and an extrovert. either ur 99% an intro and 1% extro or the other way around we’re all different. u make it seem like introverts are just shy ppl or something who have no lives or something. watevs.

  32. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Good question, Richard! But no, I don’t think introverts have a less chance of succeeding at businesses that require networking, schmoozing, connecting with people, etc. In fact, I know an extraordinarily successful investor (corner office, more clients than he knows what to do with, set for life early, etc) who has extremely introverted personality traits. He may have had to learn how to network successfully – it may not have come naturally – but it’s definitely possible for introverts to be successful.

    In fact, I’ve just finished reading “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. Of all the qualities that makes a person successful – personality, family, culture, decade born, education opportunities – not once did Gladwell mention introverted versus extroverted personality traits. He mentioned charm and the ability to connect with people…but that’s not an extroverted personality trait.

    Richard, I would never suggest changing to be extroverted — it’s insincere, inauthentic, and likely to drain your spirit, energy, and personality! You’d be living a false life…ugh.

    Rather, I’d encourage you (and all introverts) to capitalize on your strengths. I’m a TOTAL introvert, so I understand how hard it can be to interact and connect with others….but I also know how important it is to build business skills that will help you succeed.

    If you have any specific questions – such as a particular trait that you feel is “holding you back”, I’d be happyto give suggestions to get around it!

    Thanks for your comment, I always love hearing from fellow “innies”! :-)

    Laurie

  33. Hi, Laurie. I think your article is very helpful. But would you say introverts have less chance of being successful in things like running own businesses – in real estate field or in sales just to name some examples – than extroverts? It seems to me that extroverts enjoy much more advantage than introverts because of their ability to connect with people and hence achieving goals much quicker. Do you think introverts need to be really extraordinary to be successful at entrepreneurship – if so, is there a way to ‘change’ oneself into an extrovert??

  34. Thanks for your thoughts, Chris! I’m an introvert, and I wrote this article (I feel like I’m at an AA meeting). I’m also an entrepreneur – a freelance writer. A businesswoman.

    I don’t think any of these ways to network as an introvert encourage people to act like extroverts. For the first tip: Meeting clients one on one is NOT an extroverted way to act. Extroverts like groups – often, the bigger the better.

    For the second tip: to be successful at networking (and networking is crucial to most businesses), professionals need goals – whether they’re introverted or extroverted.

    For the third tip: If you have to force yourself to network, then you might as well be networking with like-minded folk — other introverts!

    For the fourth tip: Connecting with extroverts doesn’t mean you have to be like extroverts, it’s just another way to network.

    For the fifth tip: Knowing how to make small talk isn’t an extroverted OR introverted personality trait. It’s part of being an effective human being both professionally and personally.

    For the sixth tip: finding different, creative ways to market yourself as an introvert has nothing to do with becoming more extroverted.

    It may be more difficult for introverts to network, but we don’t have to become extroverted to be successfully professionally!

  35. So your solution for introverts to network is to act like an extrovert? I guess you forgot the part about us being introverts to begin with and that’s why we don’t act like extroverts. It reads like an extrovert wrote this article. Am I right?

  36. Your career advice guide

    Networking has become a major job hunt tool today. Whether you like it or not, if you are not networking, you are losing out on a lot.