9 social situations most introverts find extremely uncomfortable, according to psychology

Introverts see the world through a different lens than more extroverted people. 

There are various situations that are quite difficult and unenjoyable for introverts which are a lot of fun to others. 

Introverts do their best to avoid the following situations or get out of them as soon as possible if they have no choice. 

Drawing on insights from psychology, here’s a look at the top social situations that are truly uncomfortable for introverts. 

1) Spontaneous social invites and events

The introvert strongly dislikes spontaneous social invitations and gatherings. 

“Hey, come join us guys after work at the pub. Everyone’s coming!”

This is the introvert’s nightmare fuel. 

Such a sudden invitation can cause anxiety due to the unexpected need for immediate social engagement.

That’s because the introvert generally doesn’t enjoy large gatherings and outer-facing interactions and prefers time alone and reflecting. 

“The psychologist Carl Jung first introduced the terms introvert and extrovert in 1921,” explains Promises Behavioral Health Clinic. They add that he did this “as a way to differentiate between those who feel more connected to their inward thoughts and feelings and those whose focus is more on the external world.”

2) Group work without clear roles 

Introverts dread a work setting where they are working in a group without a clearly-defined role. 

They are supposed to “help out,” or “advise” or “come to a consensus” and they feel deeply uneasy about what that even means and how it will play out. 

Bustling group situations with no clear outcome or roles are extremely uncomfortable for the introvert since they don’t know where they fit and often feel overwhelmed by the chaos and extroverted personalities.

“Many organizations still tend to favor extroverted traits, such as assertiveness, high energy, and a propensity for public speaking,” explains therapist Blake Griffin Edwards, LMFT. 

“This can create an environment where introverts feel undervalued or overlooked.”

Sadly, Edwards is quite correct, and this aspect is another reason why introverts dread open-ended group work:

Because they know their silence and introversion will often be mischaracterized or seen as passivity or laziness. 

3) Open office space floor plans

The lack of privacy and constant potential for sudden and jarring interruptions is anathema to the introvert. 

That’s not to mention the various impromptu interactions that come along:

Their colleague and her funny jokes, the boss and his extra tasks he wants done, the receptionist chatting about what he did this weekend. 

It cuts into the introvert’s attempt to focus and get down to work. It also leads them to slowing down overall, as they now need time to recharge and get back into work mode. 

They’d rather have their own space where they can shut the door and have some peace and quiet while they work, or quiet and relaxing background music. 

4) Busy and loud networking and work events

Loud environments can be overstimulating for an introvert, making them feel depleted, frazzled and frustrated. 

They just want to get away, and have some peace and quiet on their own. 

This can lead to the perception that the introvert isn’t a “go-getter” or doesn’t put enough effort into networking and building bridges. 

As Edwards explains: “Introverts also often face biases and misunderstandings in the workplace, where their quieter, more reflective nature may be perceived negatively compared to extroverted colleagues.” 

This poor perception of the introvert makes them even more determined to avoid busy, pushy networking shindigs. 

It’s just not their scene. They build bridges more quietly, behind-the-scenes and one-on-one. 

This ties directly into the next point: 

5) Icebreaker activities in large groups

Many of us have been in work or social situations where there are “icebreaker” activities. 

At my gym group classes this includes things like saying our name to introduce ourselves and mentioning our favorite food or music. 

I don’t mind, being more of an ambivert (mix of introvert and extrovert). 

But for the true introvert these types of group icebreakers are deeply uncomfortable.

They hate talking about themselves in front of other people they don’t know. 

“I’ve found that I prefer talking to an individual at gatherings versus large groups,” advises psychology writer Angie Morgan. “This type of relationship development isn’t as overwhelming for me and makes me feel I’m avoiding surface conversations – something that seems exhausting to me.”

Because introverts place such a high premium on their privacy and one-on-one conversations, icebreaker and group activities at work or socially are the opposite of a good time for them. 

6) Unexpected phone calls 

Getting an unexpected phone call from a colleague, somebody else you know or an old friend is a joy for some people:

For the introvert it’s a massive headache. 

Receiving a call without prior notice can be jarring and snap them way out of their flow state. 

This is especially true if they already have a public-facing job or role in their life and phone calls interrupt their alone time.

“I’m an introvert who spends a great deal of time passing as an extrovert,” recounts Morgan. “While I love meeting people, hearing their stories, and engaging with them, I recharge by spending time alone … with my thoughts … in the woods, or even staring out the window.”

This is why the introvert hates seeing “video call incoming” or “X is calling you.”

They’re busy watching the birds outside or going for a walk with their phone set to “urgent only.” Then suddenly it vibrates and they shudder.

7) Participating in group brainstorming sessions

Introverts strongly dislike group brainstorming sessions at work as well. 

These often require quick thinking and vocal participation, which can be challenging for introverts.

They want to reflect and think over what they really feel and believe, not throw out speculation and ideas without mulling them over very much first. 

They feel uncomfortable being asked to be overly spontaneous and social in an environment where they also may not be fully comfortable with everyone. 

It’s just not their jam. 

This ties into the next point as well.

8) Being put on the spot in group meetings

When asked to provide instant feedback or answers in a meeting, the introvert tends to freeze. 

They may laugh it off or give a curt answer, but inside they are feeling like garbage: overwhelmed and frustrated. 

It’s not because they lack confidence, necessarily, but because they shine one-on-one and when in a reflective space, not when called upon suddenly in a group.

“Introverts can be highly assertive, ambitious, and self-assured. The key difference is that they tend to be more selective about when and how they express these qualities,” notes Edwards.

When they’re asked to weigh in during a meeting on the spot, introverts feel pressured and anxious.

They need time to think through their thoughts and get clear on how they want to express themselves, and they don’t feel comfortable verbalizing anything substantive to folks before such preparation has taken place.

9) Attending parties or events where they don’t know anyone

For some folks, entering a party alone where they don’t know anybody produces a frisson of excitement:

So much to do and see! So many unique new people to meet!

For the introvert it’s more like a waking nightmare. 

Walking into a social event where they know only one or two people can be daunting and extremely uncomfortable for the introvert. 

Not only do they feel out of place and under pressure to socialize, seeing more extroverted people or introverts playing extroverted roles makes them feel alienated and lonely. 

They feel like they too have to play a surface role they don’t want to play and engage in useless small talk to try to appeal to strangers. 

Tying it all together

Introverts can be confident, social and friendly.

They are not necessarily shy or socially awkward

They just prefer one-on-one communication and need plenty of time to recharge and recenter alone. 

This is simply a natural part of the introvert life cycle and their own way of handling their emotions and experiences. 

Introverts are more than able to have fulfilling relationships with extroverts and ambiverts, but the crucial component is respect: 

At work and in their personal lives, they should seek out those who respect their energy and personality.

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