The Mystery of the Talkative Introvert

Darrell’s avatar

The other day, someone said, “He can’t be an Introvert. He never shuts up.”

Ah. The seeming paradox of the “talkative Introvert.” We all know one. Perhaps we’ve even been one. They can be very confusing to their Extraverted friends and colleagues. One minute the chatty friends who appear to be just like their fellow Extraverts suddenly withdraw to be alone. Are they mad or upset? No. They just want some time to be by themselves to recharge, as all Introverts must.

When the subject and the listeners are right, nothing stops many Introverts from holding court. The right social or professional circumstances can easily destroy the myth of the silent Introvert.

In fact, sometime Introverts are the chattiest people in the room. For example, lest we forget, all kinds of entertainers and public figures are Introverts. If these people plan to sway large numbers of people as a celebrity or a politician must to succeed, they can’t do it by just standing there and looking pretty. (Well, there are some celebrities... but we digress...) They have to speak. They have to speak a lot.

So, where does the confusion come in and why are some people perplexed by the idea of a talkative Introvert? Here are some things to consider:

First, and probably foremost, there is often confusion between Introversion and shyness. Introversion is about individuals finding energy and strength when they turn inward. They like the quiet, controlled world inside their thoughts. Introverts lose energy when they deal with the outward world. They are drained by outside stimuli. They are usually happiest when they are alone or with a small, quiet group of like-minded people. It has little to do with fear of others. It has everything to do with emotional energy.

Shyness, on the other hand, is about fear. Shy people are afraid of doing or saying the wrong thing in front of other people. They may put a lot of extra weight on what others think of them. It has everything to do with fear of others.

Since both shy people and Introverts tend to retreat, albeit for different reasons, Introversion and shyness can look alike on the surface. To further complicate things, if Introverts also happen to be Turbulent, they might also mimic a shy person by caring a lot about the opinions of others. However, that is a product of the Turbulent identity and has nothing inherently to do with Introversion. Nonetheless with these similarities, it’s no wonder shyness and Introversion are often confused.

And yes, an Extravert can be shy, and that combination can be extremely painful. Imagine needing to reach out and, yet, for whatever reason, fearing to do so. But that’s a topic for another article.

Despite the resemblance, the distinctions are clear. Unlike shy people, Introverts are not necessarily bound by fear. If Introverts choose not to speak, it’s because they prefer not to rather than because they are afraid. The other side of that coin is that there is nothing basic to their makeup that stops Introverts from talking as much as they like.

Second, in many cultures – especially in the West – Extraversion is the coin of the realm. Globally, it appears that more people are Extraverts than Introverts. Extraverts are the “face” of everything. They are the people we generally see. Their outgoing style makes such outreach natural. Consequently, research also suggests they make more money, have more friends and are happier people.

Since that’s the case, adaptive Introverts may find themselves behaving more like Extraverts for social and professional gain. It doesn’t make them any less Introverted since they will still crave their time alone to restore energy and to look inward for the answers to life’s questions. Nonetheless, Introverts who choose certain paths may need, at times, to learn to “out talk” their Extraverted friends and colleagues in order to succeed. Because of this, they may speak a lot more than they might if the world were ruled by Introverts based on more Introverted standards.

Third, Introverts often have a lot of meaningful things to say – and it may come out all at once. They are generally deep, contemplative people. Why not share some of their thoughts? There’s nothing inherently Introverted about keeping these thoughts to themselves.

There are a lot of variations of the old joke about the pet dog suddenly speaking to his master after many years. Of course, the surprised owner asks, “Why have you never spoken before?” The wise dog logically answers, “I didn’t have anything interesting to say.” The pensive Introvert may hold the same philosophy as Fido about speaking. Silence is good, but when there is something interesting to say...

Thus “The Mystery of the Talkative Introvert” is solved. Or is it? You tell us.

Are you a talkative Introvert? Do you know any? Have we solved the mystery adequately? Please take a moment to leave a comment and share your experiences with talkative Introverts. We always love to read your thoughts and ideas.