When Introverts become angry, they tend to hold everything inside, hiding their anger from others and even from themselves.
Or at least this is what most people think. In fact, this idea is more myth than reality.
When Introverts become angry, they may try to repress their feelings. But their efforts will be only partially successful. Their placid exterior is just a cover and not a particularly good one, despite what they might think. Angry Introverts will demonstrate their feelings in subtle and indirect ways, and once you know what to look for you’ll be able to spot the signs—and if you’re the one who provoked their anger, preferably take action that will address the situation to your satisfaction as well as theirs.
Here are six things that introverts do when they’re angry:
#1 They will take out their anger on inanimate objects
Even if they aren’t speaking, Introverts may still express their anger through sound.
If you hear an extended series of knocks, bumps, bangs, thumps, thuds, and crashes emerging from the general vicinity of an Introvert, it likely means they’re upset and are taking it out on doors, drawers, pots, pans, dishes, furniture, and any other non-living objects that might be handy.
You may only hear these auditory projections of thinly veiled distress periodically. The sounds of these objects being opened, closed, picked up, put down, or moved about may only be a little louder than normal. The intensity of this activity may vary based on the intensity of the anger, or on the Introvert’s determination not to give the game away by overdoing it. But multiple instances of even mild object abuse is a clear indicator of anger in Introverts.
#2 They will project their anger onto technology
People who can’t or won’t take their anger directly to the source will often target their deep annoyance elsewhere, and one common recipient of their displaced anger is technology.
These days technology is ubiquitous and most people are highly dependent on it in one way or another. While the digital devices we depend on generally function smoothly, glitches and slow performance are inevitable from time to time.
Unfortunately, even the slightest malfunction can send an angry Introvert into a paroxysm of frustrated rage. In those moments of impatient irrationality, the angry Introvert may be half convinced that their laptops, cell phones, tablets, printers, or smart appliances are actively conspiring against them, or trying to kick them when they’re already down.
Their response to these outrages will be clearly out of proportion to the level of service interruption, which should tip you off that it’s really not about the technology.
#3 They may suddenly become the world’s biggest pessimists
When anger is repressed it tends to become displaced or projected, which is why inanimate objects and technological devices are sometimes made to suffer.
But when projecting their anger, some Introverts prefer to go big rather than small. Instead of getting mad at their buggy laptop, they will project their anger onto the fabric of reality as a whole. In their lowest moments, they may see the situation that caused their anger as a manifestation of an indifferent and unfeeling universe, which will fill them with dismay and existential angst.
It is primarily the big-picture thinkers, like INFJs, INFPs, and INTJs, who are prone to taking this leap into the emotional abyss when they get upset. Introverts projecting their anger onto the broader canvass of reality will be suddenly filled with pessimism, cynicism, apathy, or fatalism. Their worldview will suddenly turn gloomy, regardless of the subject matter. This will represent a dramatic departure from their usual reactions, and that is how you can tell that something is wrong.
#4 They will overreact to small setbacks
An Introvert trying to hold their anger in is an Introvert on the edge. In these circumstances, the slightest disappointment could set them off. They won’t become violent, but their verbal and non-verbal responses will betray their inner feelings rather definitively.
When an overreaction to a small setback occurs, it won’t have a cathartic effect. Because their reaction is displaced, the original source of their anger will remain unaddressed and will continue to keep them in a state of inner agitation. They may blow off some steam this way, but the engine that produced the steam will still be churning away inside.
#5 They will withdraw to a private place
Introverts in distress won’t always choose solitude, but if their emotional discomfort is caused by anger, they may seek to isolate themselves from everyone else in the house or building. Angry Introverts are in a sensitive state, and they can easily become overstimulated by too much social contact.
Interestingly, Introverts won’t usually respond to their anger by leaving altogether. They know that a sudden disappearance could reveal the depths of their annoyance and betray their attempts to keep their feelings hidden.
#6 They will become overly independent
Introverts can become temporarily disillusioned by incidents that leave them feeling slighted, disrespected, overlooked, or mistreated. For a few hours they may become disillusioned not just with the person who caused their anger, but with humanity in general.
In these instances, Introverts will respond to their turbulent emotional state by becoming fiercely independent and self-sufficient. They will insist on doing everything themselves, even if they’re overburdened and could clearly benefit from the assistance of others. Offers to help will be rejected, politely but firmly, regardless of whether or not the person making the offer played any role in the circumstances that caused the anger.
Tailoring Your Response to the Personality Type
Anger issues that remain unresolved are painful in the short-term and can have a lingering effect on a relationship. When you’ve provoked an angry reaction in an Introvert you care about, and have recognized the signs that reveal their true feelings, you shouldn’t wait more than a few moments to intervene.
To help your introverted loved ones deal with their anger more effectively, it can be a good idea to customize your approach based on their specific personality type:
INFPs are highly sensitive and can feel deep hurt simultaneously with their anger. This is why you should make a big effort to validate their feelings, acknowledging the legitimacy of their reactions and accepting them without judgment or defensiveness.
INFJs are idealists, and because of this they are not the type to feel comfortable with their negative feelings. Their natural tendency is to forgive, and just a few sincere words of kindness and understanding from you, delivered with a smile and a supportive tone, can quickly melt their anger. You can still be honest about your feelings, as long as you make it clear you’re only looking for solutions and are not interested in pointing fingers or placing blame.
INTPs and INTJs are known for their logical, rational, and analytical approach to problem solving. You can work with this, by talking to them about the situation that upset them in a way that lets each of you express your viewpoints, perceptions, and perspectives openly and honestly. If you can convince an INTP or an INTJ that constructive conversation and forthright engagement is the best way to arrive at a mutually beneficial solution, they will usually be willing to talk it out, instead of keeping their feelings bottled up inside.
ISTPs and ISTJs are methodical and results-oriented. They appreciate the opportunity to work things out step by step, until a solution is reached that is satisfactory for everyone. Therefore, you should encourage them to say whatever they feel they must, without fear of being judged or rejected. If you make it clear you understand and will do your best to act or react differently in the future, they will feel better and be open to hearing your thoughts and perspectives, and changing their behavior if necessary to adapt to you.
ISFPs are noted for their spontaneity and for their ability to go with the flow. As a result, one of the best ways to help an ISFP who is struggling with anger is to offer them a chance to do something fun or constructive, right now. Take them somewhere where you can share an experience that is exciting, educational, or uplifting, and their anger should dissipate quickly. Afterward, there will be time to sit down and discuss what happened to make them angry, and together you can search for solutions that can prevent future difficulties.
ISFJs are deeply devoted and loyal to their families and friends. They find conflicts with loved ones extremely upsetting, which is why they’re motivated to suppress their anger. To counteract this tendency, you should strongly encourage them to open up about their feelings, letting them know that you won’t be offended or upset about their honest expressions of emotions. As long as you explain your side of the story calmly, directly, and without annoyance or defensiveness, they will be receptive to your input and will react calmly and with a generous spirit.
If you find a way to deal with an Introvert’s anger proactively, constructively, and effectively, it can make a lasting impression. The next time something happens (if it does), they may approach you first, which would mean you’ve helped them break free from their reflexive tendency to repress their feelings.