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Why Introverts Need Time Alone to Process Conflicts

Stranger: Nice dress.

Introvert: Thanks.

Stranger: Do you think it’ll ever come back in style?

What’s your subsequent response to this put-down?

It sounds like something happening on the playground or high school, right?

No, this happens among adults, and adult bullying is on the rise.

Stacey Colino, a writer for U.S. News & World Report, said:

In an online survey of more than 2,000 adults across the U.S., conducted on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association in October, 31 percent of respondents said they’ve been bullied as adults, and 43 percent believe that bullying behavior has become more accepted in the past year (para. 1).

And as people become more intense during times of crisis, these numbers will only go up.

However, not all attempts at humor should be viewed as bullying.

Sometimes people use humor as a way of expressing interest or attempting to break social awkwardness.

Shortsighted individuals miss that introverts may view any humorous communication reserved for family and close friends as a personal attack.

Many introverts will become silent because such unexpected incivility is a surprise, mainly when it is unprovoked.

Often, there isn’t enough time to respond to the barbs and slights that people lodge without careful consideration.

That is especially true for introverts.

For introverts, conflict or potential conflict can be exaggerated because of the opportunity for random violence.

They need time alone to process what just happened.

Rebecca Chasteen, author of the article “How Introverts Handle Conflict,” said:

When faced with conflict, introverts likely need time alone to process an issue before dealing with it. They may withdraw to allow themselves time to think before acting. When pressed to handle a conflict quickly, an introvert may instead try to avoid it altogether, or allow the other person to have his way to prevent any further engagement in the conflict. After the situation has ended, an introvert may reflect on it and express additional thoughts and feelings much later, as the case is not entirely over for her until she has had time to process it (para. 2).

Introverts ask themselves questions like:

“Why did that stranger feel the need to ridicule me?”

“What did I do to show that there would be no repercussions for his actions?”

“Why did he feel comfortable targeting me when he doesn’t know me?”

Although introverts may avoid confrontations, a cadre of introverts is disinclined to merely walk away.

They won’t escalate or fuel conflict, but they won’t run from it.

Some Introverts can use an insightful, observational response that lands so hard that the other party is embarrassed and wants to escalate the conflict.

With their backs against the wall, these aggressors now say, “I was only kidding…Lighten up…Can’t you take a joke?”

After being called out, the aggressor now claims victimhood.

Introverts’ calm and dispassionate communication may make the other party feel unintelligent and inferior.

To avoid hurting aggressors too deeply with their incisive intellect, introverts may have templated responses to stave off escalating conflicts.

In this vein, introverts need time alone to process conflicts, make sense of unwarranted attacks, and develop pat responses that serve as self-defense mechanisms.

Introverts may view all challenges to their serenity and tranquility as a conflict.

To get a handle on the core of their discontentment, introverts must dissect the problem, analyze best practices for remedies, create philosophies to justify recommended remedies, and then execute the process.

Dissecting the problem

Introverts will investigate every conflict angle by engaging in imaginary conversations with themselves.

They will replay the scene over and over again in an attempt to recreate reality. They realize that they don’t get “do-overs” but believe that life is one giant social experiment.

And conflicts are to be scrutinized.

Analyze best practices for remedies

Just as introverts realize that conflicts are to be scrutinized, they also recognize that there is research and data that reflect the best ways of handling conflict based on personality type and temperament.

Such research underscores the notion that experience starts the intellectual process of discovering the best responses to conflict.

Introverts try on solutions to conflict like people try on clothes to achieve the right fit.

Create philosophies to justify recommended remedies

It is not enough to achieve the right fit; introverts must also justify the reason for applying a concept.

Whether it’s political theory, military history, or legal analysis, introverts must create philosophies that give credence and foundation to the relevance of a remedy.

Executing the process

Although highly vetted systems have been researched and evaluated, they still must be acted upon.

Introverts realize that social experiments involve trial and error.

Modifications can only take place when there are actions to assess.

Why does conflict expend so much emotional energy?

In short, introverts are highly sensitive to their environment. As they age, they believe conflicts should decrease with the correct approach.

Conflict is a shock to their system in their thinking that such issues were settled in childhood.

“Why did that person cut me off in traffic when I was in the proper lane?”

“Why does the lady in the deli department make me feel like I am being intrusive by merely asking for service?”

“Why does my supervisor only give me last-minute assignments?”

Introverts are highly accountable and become introspective to gauge their culpability in uncomfortable situations.

And they experience remorse within counterproductive situations but also feel that it is their responsibility to deal with these situations effectively.

After all, they are endowed with advanced reasoning and critical thinking skills.

They don’t have the luxury of pleading ignorance.

Additionally, many introverts go through life with endless nervous energy and are forever attempting to offset this nervous energy by developing highly evolved self-defense mechanisms.

These highly evolved self-defense mechanisms can only be developed with alone time.

After all, theories don’t matter if they don’t have practical applications.

And they must withstand the test of time as new challenges and fears enter the picture.

—Jill McGinnis


Chasteen, R. (2017, June 13). How introverts handle conflict. How to Adult. Retrieved from:

Colino, S. (2017, Dec. 15). The long reach of adult bullying. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved from:

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