Six Things Introverts Do When They’re Angry

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on March 18, 2021

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. 

Nathan Falde

Nathan Falde has been working as a freelance writer for the past six years. His ghostwritten work and bylined articles have appeared in numerous online outlets, and in 2014-2015 he acted as co-creator for a series of eBooks on the personality types. An INFJ and a native of Wisconsin, Nathan currently lives in Bogota, Colombia with his wife Martha and their son Nicholas.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.


Dave Summers (not verified) says...

Very worthy insight in definable, measurable, consistant terms. MOST appreciative for your focus with this primary toolbox at my side as I's continue to facinate my life, like NO others on this Third Rock.  -- virtus junxit mors non seperabit --

Dr Jennifer Bolen, MD (not verified) says...

This article would have more credibility if it didn't use the discredited myers-briggs archetypes for the analysis. MB is great entertainment but has little test-retest validity and a lacks any core foundation.  I don't know of any psychologists or psychiatrist who use it and it isn't taught in any graduate programs. 

AndreaI (not verified) says...

Yes, but are YOU an introvert, and how did the article apply to your personality? Because that’s the point. Not pedantry. 

Maria McMullen (not verified) says...

 I totally disagree with Dr Bolen. I am an INFJ middle child…oldest is a girl and youngest a boy. The article hit strongly true for all but one of the six. Unless you are an Introvert plus NFJ…don’t judge this by your own personality characteristics. 
The article gave valuable insight to what is happening beneath the surface of an angry introvert. 

Fred Vicky Wabulo (not verified) says...

Am in really in supportively with all what has been illustrated, thanks, Best regarded. May awesome almighty Lord God Blessed.!!!


Michael B (not verified) says...

I'm an INTJ, and I'm currently dealing with #3 on this list—specifically, how the world seems to favor folks that are more extroverted, charismatic, and confident people in business and leadership environments. I'm truly lost on how I can psychologically get past this problem since I can not change the world nor how others interpret it. 

AndreaI (not verified) says...

Agree with you so much. The world caters to a certain type - well, at least, our current capitalist “professional” system does. I feel absolutely paralyzed at a certain point in every project because I either don’t know/understand what I’m “supposed” to do next, or absolutely refuse to actually do what is what I’m “supposed” to do next, because it’s so not reasonable, to me. 

AndreaI (not verified) says...

Wow. Thank you for writing this! Have to say, yep, this is true. I’ve always spoke to how much I hate physics. When I have something on my car seat and I have to stop *SLIGHTLY* more abruptly than normal, and that inanimate object goes flying - like now an upside-down, emptied purse - it absolutely infuriates me. I have a very short(ened) fuse the more stress I’ve had over the last two decades, but it’s always a *thing* that won’t just do what it’s supposed to. An app that suddenly stops working right. Google mini deciding she “doesn’t understand” me, more when I’m standing right next to her, than when I’m halfway across the house. Medicare (and other insurance billing) being evil, gaslighting monsters. But, again, not the people, the system, the software, the process, the outcomes. But if I set something down and it decides to just slide and not do what I wanted it to do, all my pent up resentments from being so contained and controlled for 50 years just burst out. How dare you slide off that chair? It sometimes makes me laugh, but has always baffled me. Why does that upset me so much? Maybe because it’s something I should be able to control, but the universe has decided to thwart me? hahahaha.

Have always been somewhat openly pessimistic (but romantic and hopeful inside, which I don’t share, because people are awful), yet my best friend pointed out something that made it make sense. “The smartest people tend to be the most pessimistic. Haven’t you ever noticed that the most blindly happy people aren’t the brightest bulbs?” She’s right. The people I know who are the most effortlessly happy are either faking it, not too educated, or *choose* to not look at the world, so they have no idea what’s actually going on and can remain blissfully unaware. 

I have always found myself happiest when alone, and able to get things done without having to ask for help. Not that I don’t want help, or a team, a community, but people mess things up. And the *least* suicidal I’ve ever been over whether I deserve to be loved, is when I’ve been single and chosen to be alone. Relationships always end up with me seething at the universe for why it constantly tells me I don’t deserve to be appreciated by others. That all goes away when I’m alone in my nest. Nothing irks me more than having to ask for help. Most of the time I regret it. 

This post is spot on. 

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