I am frequently described as a quiet person.
My husband, close friends, and family may think differently, but when I meet new people one of the first things I get told is how quiet I am. I even had a yoga instructor tell me once I was so quiet- but doing an excellent job. Isn’t yoga supposed to be quiet?
I used to have a coworker who was just obsessed with my silence. It was to the point where I would try to avoid her because I just didn’t want to hear more about how quiet I was at work. I really don’t understand what I was supposed to be doing at my desk to make noise, but apparently I was missing out on doing something really noisy and delightful.
Just a pointer, if someone is kind of quiet and shy, pointing it out incessantly isn’t really an encouraging way to get them to open up to you.
And why is being quiet such a bad thing? When people initially think of introverts I think they get this mental picture of someone wanting to always be home and not interact with people, or the wallflower at a party. This may be the case for some people but not for everyone. Introverted people have varying traits. I love social interaction and being around lots of people but I do get overstimulated and sometimes need alone time to reset. Quiet alone time lets me gather my thoughts and reconnect to myself.
Here are a few things that I think frequently get misconstrued because I am a quiet person:
- My shyness when we first meet does not mean I am snobby and judging you. It’s amazing to me how many times I have been told that at first people thought I was a snob because I was so quiet when we first met.
- I don’t need to talk to feel like I am a part of the conversation. I enjoy learning about other people, hearing their stories, learning new things and observing our surroundings. It’s enough for me to feel included in a group just to be there listening.
- New social situations can cause me a little anxiety, but it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them. I like to push myself out of my comfort zone sometimes. I may not always put myself in these situations but I don’t always refuse them either.
Telling me to “come out of my shell” doesn’t help. In fact, it puts more pressure on me and makes me want to clam up even more.
- Just because I am being quiet during a situation doesn’t mean I don’t have any thoughts about it. I like to hear all the facts and know people’s opinions before I make statements. In an argument, I want to know your side and why and have time to consider my response. I like to have fully thought out opinions before I share them.
- Being quiet doesn’t mean you can’t be a leader. Forbes Magazine did an article on some introverted traits that make for good leaders. Leading isn’t always about being the loudest and giving direction on your ideas. A combination of having ideas and listening to others can be just as important. I’ve found my calmness and ability to listen to others have made me quite successful in work situations that you might on the surface think would take an extrovert to be successful.
My daughter just turned two and I feel like it’s too early to tell if she will be more quiet and reserved or loud and outgoing or maybe a combination- but one thing I want her to know is being a quiet person is not a bad thing.
She certainly likes to be social but I see she likes to be quiet and observe her surroundings before jumping right in. I want her to feel comfortable with that if that’s how her personality continues to develop. She doesn’t need to feel pressure to come out of her shell. Being comfortable with who you are doesn’t mean you need to live your life out loud.
Being quiet doesn’t mean you are a weaker person.
Now none of this is meant to imply that being a louder person or extroverted is a bad thing. Some of the people I love the most in my life are extroverted. I think it’s a ying and yang- a balance. We can’t all be talking at the same time. The world needs people who like to talk more and people who like to listen. We can learn from each other. Extroverts push me to do things that I feel make me a better person and add to my life. Maybe I have shown them some things that add to their life.
Don’t we need a mix of people in this world? Isn’t that what makes life interesting?
So, coming from the little girl who constantly had to hear that she was “so quiet,” maybe just think twice about why you are asking for more volume. My quietness was frequently presented as weird or different and I was told that I needed to change my personality to succeed.