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The American culture thrives on outgoing and extroverted people. The motto is bigger and louder is better. So when someone introverted or shy seems to ignore you, it can feel like a personal attack.
I have transitioned from a shy kid to more of an outgoing introvert in adulthood. Even with my more outgoing introversion, I still deal with people who mistakenly think I am ignoring them or ask me “what is wrong” when I am very chill at a gathering.
Being creative adds to the drama since I often am in my own head. I also can enjoy someone's company without speaking all the time. As an American, this is often misunderstood.
What You Will Learn
- What Is an Introvert?
- How to Tell If an Introvert Is Ignoring You or Just Being Shy and Reserved
- Benefits of Being Friends with an Introvert
- 15 Ways to Respond When an Introvert Ignores You
- 1. Don’t Take It Personally
- 2. Respect Their Space
- 3. Don’t Try To Force Them Out Of Their Comfort Zone
- 4. Suggest Non-Talking Activities
- 5. Step Away From the Group
- 6. Encourage Them To Talk About Their Interests
- 7. Ask Them Open-Ended Questions
- 8. Don’t Interrupt Them
- 9. Pay Them a Compliment
- 10. Don’t Take It Personally If They Cancel Plans
- 11. Just Ask When They May Be Available
- 12. Don't Tell Them to Cheer Up
- 13. Provide An Open Invite
- 14. Check In With Them
- 15. Take the Lead
- Final Thoughts about How to Respond when an Introvert Ignores You
What Is an Introvert?
Introverts are people who typically prefer quiet, minimally stimulating environments. They like to have time alone or with close friends and family. An introvert’s brain is more sensitive to dopamine, which is associated with pleasure and reward.
So introverts may feel overstimulated by activities that extroverts find exciting… such as parties, concerts, and large social gatherings. As an introvert, if I go to a party, rest assured I know at least some of the people there or I would respectfully decline.
Don't get me wrong, introverts are capable of enjoying gatherings – but it may be overwhelming to go out several times a week, every single weekend, or to always be surrounded by people.
If your introverted friend or family member parties all night with you on Friday, don't be surprised if they need to stay in on Saturday to recharge their batteries.
How to Tell If an Introvert Is Ignoring You or Just Being Shy and Reserved
If you are used to being around extroverts, it can be hard to tell the difference between an introvert ignoring you and an introvert who is just shy or reserved.
Here are some clues that an introvert may be ignoring you:
Clue #1. They keep making excuses not to spend time with you.
Clue #2. They are not interested in the things you are interested in.
Clue #3. They always seem to be busy when you try to talk to them but not to certain other people in the same room.
Clue #4. They never initiate conversations with you and don't respond when you initiate one.
If you are not sure if an introvert is ignoring you, try asking them directly if they are okay. An introvert who is ignoring you will probably not want to talk about it. A shy or reserved introvert may be more likely to open up about how they are feeling. Even if they don't initiate a conversation, they may talk your head off if you initiate one – especially about a topic they are into.
In my case, I usually don't tolerate gossip from anyone… not even family. I have also mastered the art of evading invasive questions from folks I don't know well. However, I can pretty much discuss anything else.
Benefits of Being Friends with an Introvert
Even if you feel it may involve more work, there are benefits to being friends with an introvert.
They are Great Listeners
Your introverted friends are some of the best listeners you will ever have. In a society that values extrovert qualities, being a good listener is often underrated. However, being a good listener is one of the most important qualities in a friend.
They are Low Maintenance
Introverted friends don't require a lot of attention or energy to maintain friendships. You don't have to worry about planning exciting events or constantly coming up with new things to talk about.
While they can certainly enjoy those events, they are usually fine with a one-on-one chat over coffee or lunch.
They can engage in Deep Conversations
When you do talk, you can have deep and meaningful conversations. Introverts are often more thoughtful and introspective than extroverts. They are also more likely to remember things you have said in the past and will often bring up topics from previous conversations.
Many introverts are often very intelligent and can provide interesting perspectives on current events or other topics.
They are Good Secret Keepers
Introverts make great confidantes. If you need to vent about something or tell a secret, you can trust that your introverted friend will not tell anyone else. They are also more likely to be non-judgmental and accepting of you, even if you have made some mistakes.
They are Low-Key and Relaxed
Introverts are often low-key and relaxed, which can be a nice break from the more high-energy people in your life. They are also often less drama-prone than extroverts and can help you to de-stress and unwind.
Now that you understand why having introverted people in your life as friends, family, or even a romantic option, let's look at how you can respond if they appear to ignore you.
15 Ways to Respond When an Introvert Ignores You
1. Don’t Take It Personally
Avoid taking the introvert's behavior personally. If you know them, it is very unlikely that they are ignoring you because they don't like you. There are many other reasons why an introvert might choose to avoid or ignore you.
Sometimes, they may be having a bad day and instead of “going off” like an extrovert might, they internalize their feelings and need some time alone to process them.
2. Respect Their Space
Introverts often need more time alone than other people. If you notice that an introvert is ignoring you, respect their space and give them some time to themselves.
They will likely come back to you when they are ready. We live in a loud world, so the only way for some introverts to recharge is by having some time alone in silence.
3. Don’t Try To Force Them Out Of Their Comfort Zone
Introverts generally don't like to be forced out of their comfort zone. If you try to force an introvert to do something they don't want to do, they will likely shut down and become even more introverted. Instead of trying to force them into something, try to find a middle ground that works for both of you.
For example, if you want to go to a party but your introverted friend doesn't, maybe you can compromise and go to a smaller gathering or meetup instead. Or, if you want to go out for drinks after work but your introverted friend would rather go home, maybe you can meet up for coffee instead.
4. Suggest Non-Talking Activities
If your introverted friend is ignoring you, think of something passive you can do together. Instead, try suggesting some non-talking activities that you can do together. Maybe you can go for a walk in the park, see a movie, or go shopping. Doing something together that doesn't require a lot of talking can be a great way to spend time with an introvert.
Such a passive activity may be a great way for the introvert to open up. If you see a funny or thought-provoking movie together, your friend may be eager to discuss it afterward. If you ever wanted to do a yoga or meditation retreat, an introverted friend would be the perfect companion.
5. Step Away From the Group
As mentioned before, introverts generally don't like large groups. If you are in a group setting and you notice that your introverted friend is ignoring you and/or others, try to break away from the group and spend some one-on-one time with them.
This will likely make them feel more comfortable and they may be more likely to open up to you. You can also try to introduce them to one person at a time within the group.
6. Encourage Them To Talk About Their Interests
Introverts are often very passionate about their interests. Try to encourage them to talk about what makes them tick. This is a great way to get to know them better and it may be a topic that they are more comfortable talking about.
If you show interest in their activities, it can be a segue into other topics as well.
7. Ask Them Open-Ended Questions
When trying to talk to an introvert, avoid yes or no questions. A series of such questions will get tiresome for both of you. Instead, try to ask them open-ended questions that require more than a one-word answer.
A great example involves books. Many introverts are bibliophiles to some degree. So instead of asking, “Do you like to read?” you can say “Tell me about your favorite book.”
This type of engagement will encourage them to talk more and it will give you a better insight into their likes and dislikes.
8. Don’t Interrupt Them
When an introvert is talking, resist the urge to interrupt them. This can be difficult, especially if you are an extrovert, but it is important to let them finish what they are saying.
This will show that you respect them and their opinions. It may also encourage them to open up more to you. Before you know it, they will initiate more conversations with you.
As an introvert who has often been interrupted by people who would complain about my quietness, I would always walk away annoyed and less willing to engage with them in the future.
So if an introvert ignores you, think about how you may have engaged with them in the past. Ask yourself if you truly had a dialogue or a monologue where the person could not get a word in.
9. Pay Them a Compliment
Everyone likes compliments, and introverts are no different. If you pay your introverted friend a genuine compliment, it may make them feel more comfortable around you. This is because they will feel appreciated and valued. Try to focus on something specific that you like about them.
10. Don’t Take It Personally If They Cancel Plans
If you have plans with an introverted friend and they cancel at the last minute, don't assume they are blowing you off. It is often just a sign that they need some time to themselves. Instead of getting upset, just reschedule for another time.
11. Just Ask When They May Be Available
If you want to spend more time with an introverted friend but you're not sure when they are available, just ask them. Many introverts appreciate such directness. This way there is no guessing game and you can just make plans when it is convenient for both of you.
12. Don't Tell Them to Cheer Up
As mentioned before, you may not know why they appear to ignore you so don't assume something is “wrong”. It can be very condescending to tell someone to “cheer up” or “snap out of it”, especially if they don't know what you're talking about.
13. Provide An Open Invite
When your friend appears to ignore you, you can always give them an open invite. This is an invitation for them to spend time with you whenever they want, with no pressure. This way, they can come to you when they are feeling up to it.
I tried this with a neighbor friend once who initially did not feel like being around people that day. I told her I would be next door at the local cafe and gave her some space.
She contacted me a couple of hours later asking if she could come join me. She did and I was able to cheer her up.
For example, if you go to the same coffee shop every day for a few hours, let your friend know and tell them to drop by when they want to.
14. Check In With Them
If you haven't heard from your introverted friend in a while, it may be a good idea to reach out to them. Just send them a text or give them a call to see how they are doing. They will appreciate that you are thinking of them.
15. Take the Lead
Some introverts may want to socialize more with you but not know how to go about it without feeling awkward. So, when an introvert appears to ignore you, it may be because they feel like they are intruding. In such cases, it may be helpful to take the lead and start the conversation yourself. This way, they won't feel like they are imposing and they can just sit back and relax.
Final Thoughts about How to Respond when an Introvert Ignores You
Introverts are often misunderstood in such a loud and bold society. As a result, they can be ignored or made to feel like they are not good enough. If you are friends with an introvert, it is important to be mindful of how you interact with them. The tips above will help you respond better when an introvert ignores you.
As I said before, an introvert ignoring you is usually not malicious. It can simply be a response to what is going on in their head, being burnt out from a loud environment, or past ways you have engaged with them. Just because someone is not verbally or physically expressing themselves does not mean there isn't a ton of activity going on in their head.
So the next time your introverted friend appears to ignore you, use the tips above to try and understand their silence. And if you are keen on helping your introverted friends find romance, have them read 7 Apps for Introverts to Date and Find Friends.
Finally, if you want to identify YOUR personality type, then take one of these 11 personality tests to better understand what makes you tick.