The Mystery of the Talkative Introvert

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.

10 months ago
This makes so much sense. I used to be really confused because people told me I was extroverted because I loved to talk and share opinions, even though minutes later I'd retreat and recharge alone. Now I know I'm just a talkative introvert.
11 months ago
I have always loved talking but after a long conversation I feel mentally tired and I just go silent for..... about thirty minutes tops. Once I took the test I wondered "why am I an introvert if I talk like a chatot? (that's a pokemon, and I love pokemon.) Thanks!
1 year ago
Well, this explains everything, I am an introvert but when I have to speak to a room full of people is ok even though then I need time to recharge my energy!
1 year ago
I actually am a talkative introvert. Especially when it comes to uh... non-spoken communication (chats and such) but among my friends I do talk a lot. I'm only shy in certain situations. When talking to teachers or professors I don't feel comfortable around, or sometimes when talking to my parents or sibling. Otherwise I'm usually open and talkative, as long as I have the energy for it.
1 year ago
Pretend I just stepped up and took control of the stage; and I might be there for a bit. :) This article is spot on. I'm an INTP and adhere to the belief that words are meant to mean something and if they don't, it's a waste of oxygen. My brother is exactly the same way and my dad is close. We work well together :) I was called shy most of my life, except for those times I came out of my "shell" as others labeled it, the assumption being it was hard for me to speak around others, that I was more nervous and fearful than most. Now and then, I would be "able" to come out of my shell by finding my courage and talk to others, "practice socializing", as I heard it called repeatedly. This is how everyone spoke of me years ago and it's still true for the most part today. Here's what was really going on: I'm not shy, nor have I ever been. I don't let what others think affect me, I'm not afraid to be around people and speaking my mind isn't the inner struggle others assume it is. It's simple: I don't speak up or engage unless the topic is one I'm knowledgeable in and have something to share, a topic I'm passionately exploring and/or anything that piques my curiosity. This is when I'm animated, alive and excited. I literally light up. Nothing puts me in full-on extravert introvert mode like the chance to talk about what excites me, to debate, ask questions and learn. I love the process of learning itself and knowledge is something I've sought my whole life. Meanwhile, those who've known me forever are patting me on the back for working on that 'shyness issue' I've always battled with. But I struggle with the mundane, the idle chit-chat and gossip. Actually, I just plain don't like it. I made the mistake of riding with someone else to a family women's luncheon and spent three hours in my version of Hell, listening to conversations ranging from a meticulous description of the entire spring clothing line to a debate on the newest colors in nail gel and wedged in between was the lasted gossip, which I despise. Throw in the solid 30 minutes spent on the highlights one person was considering and I was sure my cheese had slid right off my cracker and would never be able to climb back on. I didn't say a word, nor did I care my silence was noticed. We each have different interests which I've always understood, but to me, this kind of stuff lacks substance, something meaningful. By the time it was over, all I could think about was the new twitch I had acquired, the headache that was burning my eyeballs and the need to get back to my sanctuary as fast as possible. That was the last time I ever left my car/escape plan at home. Lesson learned. Events like this exhaust me completely physically, mentally and emotionally. I've learned to plan ahead, give myself an early out if needed. Others don't get it and I've heard about it, but I get it and that's good enough for me. I'm comfortable going 3-4 days without talking to anyone, especially when I have work deadlines, but others don't get that. I have siblings that can't let noon roll around without calling each other at least twice, for advice on what to wear, fix for dinner, their plans for the day and forever on and on. It's like they're one another's day runners and that baffles me. They think my choice to be alone so much points to problems beyond being shy. I've also been accused of acting shy purposely to hide my anti-social personality, which never did exist. Then again, neither did the shyness. Go figure.... Oh, and I'm anti-social because I hate my phone. I don't answer usually, hate talking on it at all, and text as a last resort. And then there's the door I don't always open just cause someone is knocking. If I'm busy or recharging, I'll get to it later. Besides, it's not going anywhere. :) I've been a voracious reader forever and was even told my reading habits indicated I was hiding in books, living a fantasy life, I was so fearful and hateful towards society. That my job requires enormous amounts of reading was ignored. I was taught how to think independently from a young age, make my own choices and live a life that worked for me first and everyone else, second. My choices=my consequences, good or bad. (My father emphasized autonomy and lived by example.)That translated to rebelliousness and refusal to conform, proving I really must be anti-social, not just shy after all. (contradiction there?) Welcome to my amateur diagnosis, everyone :) Seriously, this is what I was told, in length and detail. I was sick of being called the oddball, the family weirdo, cold, selfish, etc... Years ago, I stopped explaining what introversion was because my words fell on deaf ears. I was finsished with it all. I drew a line and disallowed the names they thought were OK to use and the insinuations there was something wrong with me. I don't care what they think, but I'm not hearing it. My father was gone for weeks at time on business, but when he was home, I watched him. No one dared label or diagnose him. He didn't speak much, but when he did, he could take the roof off. He rocked. :) Introversion isn't a personality disorder or an ongoing condition one must suffer with each day, as some erroneously believe. It simply means approaching life from another direction. I'm wired differently and have no plans to be rewired anytime soon; the truth is, I like being an introvert and love the perks. :) I have good friends who are much like me, are usually around when the extroverted me is in full swing and know, just like I do, that it's not permanent. Only an introvert can go from talking for hours to not uttering a word for 3 days and call that normal. I live an introverted life interspersed with bouts of extroversion. It works. I dealt enough with people conflating shyness, introversion, anti-social, etc... Until I educated myself, my head spun like a top and I was sure I was abnormal, particularly since some said exactly that to me. My family is unusually large and very extroverted and I was the one they could reach, so I was the family oddball, personified. The reason I've shared all this is because the refusal of others to separate shyness from introversion, the refusal to see introversion as an existing part of our world, led to me being labeled a whole lot of things I never was or will be. (THAT diagnoses came from the experts:) The word 'abnormal' is harmful and hurtful and it only takes hearing it one time to make an impact. It's made me wonder- What effect does all the negative talk have on those who really are extremely shy? What about those who are both introverted and shy? One doesn't explain or cure the other, yet they're conflated every day. I can't help but think this adversely affects the state of being for some and their attempts to deal with their fears and anxieties. Throw in the extroverted introvert and you've got the "sure, introversion is a real thing" group chiming in, the skeptics who think the word 'introvert' is just a new word for old issues: shyness/anxiety. This article did a great job at clarifying and separating important points. Introverts really do live in their head where it's controlled and organized, shyness is rooted in fear and introverts really can talk the paint right off a wall when inspired to do so. And the talking introvert is irrefutable proof that introversion and shyness and/or social anxiety aren't one and the same. I know two people who sought to become less socially anxious by forcing themselves to live more extroverted lives, which only led to more misery. While I don't think being a wee bit more extroverted can hurt, social anxiety needs to be addressed in multiple ways in order for anything to be effective in the long run. And I think this article very nicely sums up how and why they're different. Clarity can do miracles.
1 year ago
I completely agree. People have called me shy so many times and it really annoys me. My family doesn't understand at all why I would rather stay at home than be with friends. I've also been told I live a fantasy life, hiding in my room from the world. Which is not true. I'm not shy, I'm an introvert.
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