People who are introverts often display these 5 subtle body language traits

I’ve always been fascinated with how we communicate with each other. 

As a child, I was one of those people watchers. And to this day, I find myself unconsciously observing those around me while sipping a coffee at the weekend, while waiting in an airport queue, or while stuck in traffic.

One of the things that really interests me is body language. You’ve probably heard the 55/38/7 formula: 55% of our communication is nonverbal, 38% is vocal, and words only account for 7% of our communication. In short, we can tell so much from body language alone. 

It got me thinking: We all know that introverts are a bit more reserved and value their alone time, but can we identify one through their body language alone?

I think so, as an introvert myself. We introverts have our own unique way of expressing ourselves through subtle body language cues.

Many are unaware of these signs, but once you know what to look for, they become clear as day. These traits aren’t blatant or overbearing; rather, they’re the quiet whispers of an introvert’s personality.

Today, we dive into five such body language traits. 

1) Limited eye contact

Do you commute to work on public transport? If so, you probably know that most people avoid eye contact at all costs. Why? 

Well, I suppose it’s because most of us generally don’t want to make small talk with strangers before we’ve had a chance to have our morning coffee. Nor do we want to make small talk after eight or ten hours at the office. 

This probably applies to both introverts and extroverts. However, introverts take this to a new level.

I’ve noticed this in myself: I’ll sometimes keep my head down, look at my phone, or wear sunglasses to avoid social interaction.

It’s not that we want to be rude; it is because introverts have less energy to give toward social connection. Extroverts, on the other hand, “seek out social interaction and conversations.” 

It’s not that we don’t like people, though. It’s that we just run out of social energy. Personally, I feel like I have a maximum word count each day, and as harsh as it might sound, I don’t want to waste those words on people I don’t really want to talk to. 

I save them for the people I love and care for. 

2) Wearing headphones 

Okay, so I know this seems like a strange one, but it’s actually backed up by experts in their field. For instance, Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, noted this as a sign of introversion in one of her Psychology Today posts. 

And when we think about it, it makes complete sense. As Dr. Whitbourne noted, introverts often “don’t seek a great deal of contact with others.” What’s a good way to avoid such contact?

Wear headphones; the bigger, the better. There doesn’t even have to be any music playing!

They are like a big sign saying, “Leave me alone.” 

This might also partly explain the revival of wired earphones in recent years. It’s no secret that a lot of younger folks are choosing them over AirPods or wireless earbuds in general. 

Some say this is simply a fashion statement, some say it’s due to cost, and others put it down to fear of Bluetooth radiation. As an introvert myself, I’d add that wired ear pods are a better people deterrent!

3) Subtle body language expressions 

We all know at least one person who is very animated, talking with their hands and buzzing with energy. 

That person is probably not an introvert, though. 

As noted by Healthline, the spotlight doesn’t tempt us introverts. We’d rather “escape notice.” I can really relate to this. We simply don’t want to be the center of attention. And you know what attracts attention?

Dramatic expressive body language. Examples include wide arm gestures, exaggerated facial expressions, and constant movement.

We don’t go in for these. 

You are more likely to see an introvert engaging in subtle body movements. These might include gently nodding, slight shifts in posture, or quietly fidgeting with an object. They might also display minimal hand movements and maintain a calm, composed demeanor.

4) A preference for personal space

Another trait I’ve noticed in introverts, including myself, is the need for personal space.

As an introvert, I have always valued my personal space. It’s about having the room to breathe and think.

I often feel the need to step back a little, and at social gatherings, you’ll often find me on the fringes, preferably near a wall or something, not because I don’t want to interact but because I need that buffer zone around me.

It’s a subtle body language cue that can easily be missed unless you’re looking for it. But for introverts, it’s a crucial part of how we navigate social situations.

So next time you see someone keeping a bit of distance, it might not be because they’re unsociable. They may just be an introvert appreciating their personal space.

5) Less expressive facial cues

Last but not least, we often have less expressive faces than our extroverted counterparts. 

This is probably linked to our internal focus and reflective nature. As noted by Dr. Leon F. Seltzer, “Introverts hold back from articulating something until they feel assured that what comes out of their mouth will match what’s inside their head.” 

Unlike extroverts, who often think aloud as they speak, we prefer to pause and reflect on our thoughts and feelings, ensuring that their external expression matches their internal dialogue.

How does this look in real life?

Well, we might not immediately laugh at a joke or express surprise at shocking news, not because we don’t feel these emotions but because we’re processing them internally first.

Final thoughts

Introverts are unlikely to be the loudest in the room. And I don’t mean in just volume; our body language is also, more often than not, quiet. 

Next time you notice these subtle cues, you can be pretty sure you are dealing with an introvert. 

Hope you found this one helpful!

Lucas Graham

Lucas Graham, based in Auckland, writes about the psychology behind everyday decisions and life choices. His perspective is grounded in the belief that understanding oneself is the key to better decision-making. Lucas’s articles are a mix of personal anecdotes and observations, offering readers relatable and down-to-earth advice.

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