Why I’d rather just sit and listen


why can’t we all just get along

“I don’t know what to talk to people about. I’m okay with just sitting there and listening to others. Then if I try to interject, people shut me out, like I don’t exist (depending on the people.) So, It’s best to just sit quietly.”

I got this paragraph in an email from an acquaintance recently and I totally understood where she was coming from.

Sometimes I just want to be alone to “recharge my battery”, as introverts often do.

But other times, my desire to be alone is more complicated. Sometimes I don’t want to be around people because I don’t feel like being rejected. Say you are hanging around a group of people you don’t know well. You try to be a part of the conversation, and you are ignored.

And let’s be honest, rejection hurts, especially when you are a kid or teenager and still trying to figure out friendship and social situations. After that happens a few times, you learn that it’s better to just be quiet and observe than run the risk of speaking and being rejected.

As an adult, I’ve learned to cope with these feelings. I don’t care nearly as much when people “reject” me. Instead, I tell myself that these aren’t the type of people I want to hang around, anyways. I like people who are considerate, kind, and willing to listen to me the same way I listen to them. I have something to offer as a friend and acquaintance, and if they aren’t willing to accept me, then I don’t care about them! [triple snap!]


  1. My rejection hot button is when I host a party of some kind and people don’t show up. It’s an irrational personal scorecard. Once, my husband actually made lots of in/out footprints on our snowy sidewalk so that if guests did show up, they wouldn’t know they were the first!
    Deborah recently posted…When Little Birds Chirp: Anniversary NotesMy Profile

  2. Is there a connection to HSPs and why people may ignore you during conversation?? I have know that I am a sensitive person. But am comforted to find all this information on HSP. As an adult I have spent a long time trying to figure out what is wrong with me. Why am I so invisible when I attempt to give my input to a conversation? Why do people cut me off and talk right over me? Even at holidays now at my parent’s, with my older siblings sitting around talking, I have become silent. I have tried so hard to participate and share my thoughts or experiences, but I am just ignored. I feel so awkward now when I go to speak with people. I actually have started to stutter at times and can’t find the words because I am so anxious and worried that people just don’t want to hear me. Is any of he related to being Highly Sensitive? What is it that causes people to just ignore you and what makes you so invisible?
    It has helped me so much just realizing that all these feelings and awkward sensitivities are part of something very real and shared by so many.
    Thanks for the all the tips!

    • Maura, thanks so much for your comment. My goal is that people will read these stories and posts and feel a bit of comfort knowing that they aren’t the only ones who feel that way!

      I don’t know the answer to your question about whether being HSP means you are more likely to be ignored in conversation. But maybe….perhaps it’s just that as HSPs, we are more aware of when it happens. When someone talks over me or ignores what I say, I am very aware it’s happening. Maybe other people would just ignore it. I used to feel the same as you. It was especially bad at work. I starting telling myself that *I* wasn’t the one who was wrong or dumb. It was the other person. If they are the kind of person who is going to talk over someone or ignore someone, they are rude and inconsiderate. I don’t need to associate with that person. Finding other friends who treat me the way I deserve to be treated made a big difference. It made me realize that I’m not crazy or wrong, but that I don’t don’t *fit* with everyone else’s personality. That’s why I’m always looking for “kindred spirits”….people who I think I will get along with and who will sort of “get” me.

      I wonder why your siblings are ignoring you and treating you that way. Would you be able to ask them, or would that be too awkward?

    • Maura, I have felt the very same way as you describe all my life! It’s only been in recent days that I have been reading about HSP’s to even know they exist! All these years, I’ve wondered what is wrong with me and why I feel so differently than others — why I care so much about what other people say or think, and so many other “symptoms” that are so fitting to me. I, too, seem to find myself conversing with people who “over-talk” or ignore my input or simply dominate the conversation as I sit quietly listening attentively to their every detail. I have two friends who literally will talk to me for hours about themselves but will never ask me anything about my life. If I volunteer a tidbit of info about me, they don’t seem the least bit interested and suddenly “have to go.” Being the HSP that I am discovering myself to be, this is hurtful to me, but it also seems very inconsiderate, considering I listen to them talk about themselves when I wasn’t particularly interested. But anyhow, it’s nice to read that there are others out there who feel as I do. I’m just not sure yet how to deal with this type of “personality” any better than I had before I knew it existed!

      • Carol — I am the EXACT same way and am so comforted that I’m not the only person that feels the way you’ve described! I’m in my late 20s and have lost quite a few friendships because my girlfriends would talk and talk about themselves for hours and then act disinterested whenever I would mention anything happening in my life. Even at work and during gatherings with my fiancĂ©’s large family, I feel like any time I try to speak, someone cuts me off or talks over me, or worse, that no one even pays attention. It’s very hurtful and extremely mentally exhausting, so I have kind of resorted to the mindset that I’m meant to be a listener, not a talker.

        I’m so fortunate to have also recently discovered what an HSP is, so I’ve been reading and researching it as much as possible. It’s such a relief to know that I’m not crazy! I have started reading The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity by Carol Brown. Although I’m not extremely religious, it has given me some peace knowing that there is a special purpose and place in the world for HSPs! Best of luck to you!!

        • I can heavily relate to you all… When I was younger I was fine with just not saying much, I felt more comfortable just being observant and then piping in when it feels natural. Then I started noticing it with my friends in High school and college. They would team up and leave me out, I couldn’t get a word in, I didn’t feel like I was taken seriously. I would have to talk over them. Then end up giving up. It was quite disappointing.

  3. Catalina Aguirre Cordova says:

    Kelly? ever heard of brainswarming? Totally new term used by a psycologist that patented this type of integrated “way” of brainstorming in a workplace, where mainly problem solving requires the interaction of more than one person… and happens that management is mixed.. with introverts and extroverts… ( i found it in the washington post under innovations,”when silence is golden: The benefits of brainstorming without talking”, march 26th, Matt McFarland), very interesting!!!
    He integrates the introvert’s way of communication with the extrovert’s way.. to make an effective groupwork that actually delivers.
    I post this to you under the introversion tab, because it does happen… that introverts like more to have a passive approach when we are in conversations with extroverts around.Our ideas we keep to ourselves most of the time due to the fact that the extroverts “grab the floor”.. and we are left out. This is not because we don’t have the guts to speak up for ourselves.. but it is because we are more bold and creative in other ways of communication. Now, this guy really knows how to put BOTH to WORK. Extroverts work “top to bottom”–meaning their approach is targetting the GOAL..and going for it. getting it DONE. Whereas introverts.. are placed at the team that works bottom to top… which means manage the reasources.. that the company has to get to the GOAL.. then he integrates all the ideas.. and there comes a very bright solution… you might want to read it… its awesome… no one other is BETTER… we are complements.. if only companies could see they NEED both types…

  4. Can anyone relate to having this become a problem with communication in closer relationships/partnerships?

    I feel when I’m talking, or want to bring something up, a lot of time time it just doesn’t make sense and i can feel myself not making sense. I can feel it annoying the other person and it comes out like nervous mumbling. Feeling them become annoyed with me as I’m trying to talk makes it worse. Then I try to explain why I was confusing anf try to explain my point of view, but to the other person it seems I am making a big, big deal out of something and then we forget the content of the conversation, which disappoints me. It goes from a conversation to bickering about my misconception.
    So in the end I find it easier to not correct myself in the conversation or offer my point of view and just go along with it. Sometimes I wait until the other person has finished to input my thoughts, but by that time they’ve usually covered what I was going to ask/talk about.
    It can get rather sad because what if that is mistaken by the other person for my complete lack of engagement or interest in what we are doing or what they are talking about? Has ANYONE else experienced this dilemma? After such a long time of being content not saying anything, I just can’t think of much to say, no matter HOW interested in the topic I am, my interactions just comes off as melancholy!

    When I do start talking, I usually can’t seem to start a conversation that the other person is interested in. I seem to communicate with closed ends (there’s not much for the other person to go by). Other times, I can get into an almost hyperactive bubbly state where I talk quite a lot, but end up being annoying regardless. Afterwards (when I’ve calmed down) I feel a sense of shame at the content of what i was talking about, usually if the other person seems uniterested, like they aren’t hearing me or are annoyed with what I said.

    It’s really sad with this empathy and knowing how I’m making those close to me feel (with my lack of communication skills) especially if it feels to them like I don’t care about them or that I am disinterested in things…. Anyone have any advice?

  5. I can relate with each and every comment posted here..and I cried a lot..I don’t like being this sensitive. How can one develop the “don’t care” attitude and not get bogged down by the world ?

    • Hi Soumya, thank you for your comment. I’m sorry you are hurting. I don’t have the perfect answer for you; the only advice I can give is to try to realize when you are reacting to something in an especially sensitive way. Sometimes I am able to “catch” myself when I get worked up, and I say to myself, “Maybe I’m over-reacting to this a little, because I tend to do that.” It feels strange to doubt my OWN reactions and feelings, but it has helped me. When I’m hurt or upset, I can think, “Maybe I feel this way because I’m being a little too sensitive about it.” And I allow myself to have time to calm down. Also, when you “catch” yourself reacting that way, you can tell yourself, “Hold on a second–who cares!” That also helps me. I’m not sure I explained this very well. :/

      • Thanks for the advice Kelly. At least you can empathize with me and recognize that I am really hurting. What saddens me is the people I am close to do not realize that and tell me to take it easy, when it’s not possible to do that when you are a HSP. Sometimes a hug can calm me down..but I am tired of explaining that to close ones.

  6. I relate to every single comment. Its so good to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way and processes things the way we do. I’m so happy I found this community. <3

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