Why are you so quiet?

women-2808631_1920I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told, “you’re so quiet”. Or asked, “why are you so quiet?”

As if I didn’t realize this. As if, upon hearing this, I’d start to become more loud and outgoing. As if I was waiting for someone to point this out so I could transform into a more “socially acceptable” version of myself. As if being quiet is a negative thing.

I’m always tempted to reply with, “you’re so loud” or “someone has to be” but common sense prevails. So I’ll nod, agree with them, and the conversation moves on.

Of course they’re never looking for an answer to that question. It’s more of a statement. Some kind of flaw (they think) in our character. Perhaps they think they’re being helpful. But in reality, it’s none of their business. It’s rude to tell someone they’re being loud and obnoxious. But telling someone they’re quiet is rude too.

When someone asks this question, it comes across as criticism. We’re lacking something. We don’t fit the bubbly, outgoing, mold society encourages. We start feeling guilty about ourselves again. It’s so easy to slip back into negative thinking, despite knowing why we function this way. This question rarely makes us feel good.

But this can also be an opportunity for education if you’re with someone who’s willing to listen. But you aren’t obligated to reply, silence is always an acceptable response too. I’ve included a few answers to the “why are you so quiet” question below.

1. I think before I speak.
My mind is a whirlwind of thoughts. If I were to say everything on my mind it would overwhelm everyone around me. It’s often a challenge to find the right words. To choose what I want to say, how I want to say it, and which words to use. I may not say a lot. But what I do say has been well thought out and deeply contemplated.

2. It’s just the way I am.
I’m naturally more quiet and reserved. It’s not shyness or social anxiety. There’s nothing wrong with me. I just don’t talk as much as the “average” person. That’s all there is to it. But if you get me going on a topic I’m passionate about, you’ll have trouble shutting me up!

3. I prefer listening and observing.
I’ve learned so much by staying quiet and observing. I notice things many others don’t. And I’m able to pick up on a lot of non-verbal cues. By quietly watching, I’m able to see far more about people than they reveal through their words.

It’s tempting to reply in anger or frustration. But just because someone is being rude doesn’t mean I have to stoop to their level and reply in kind.

How would you answer that question?

On thankfulness

Sunset beautyHappy Thanksgiving to all those who celebrate today! We in Canada enjoyed ours last month but you can never have too many reminders to count your blessings. Thanksgiving is definitely a good time to sit down with a cup of tea and contemplate all the good things in your life.

There are so many things I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for my family. They have always been warm and supportive, loving, and kind. I have such a good relationship with them and I’m so grateful.

I’m thankful for my stable and well-paying job that allows me to support myself. I have enough to live on and I don’t go hungry. That’s a huge blessing, especially in these difficult and trying economic times.

I’m thankful for the experiences I had growing up. They’ve molded and shaped me into the person I am today. While trials and problems are not pleasant while you experience them, I’ve learned so much and am (slightly) wiser and more patient than before. I want to keep growing in that direction.

I’m also thankful for being an introvert (although I didn’t always view it as a blessing). Here are a few reasons why being introverted is something to be appreciated:

Feeling things deeply

This one can be both wonderful and difficult. I’m slowly coming to the point where I allow myself to feel things as they are. I obviously still have control over my emotions, but I’ve stopped burying my feelings and never letting them surface. By allowing myself to experience sadness or anger in a healthy way, I have also experienced joyful emotions on a deeper level. Beautiful things can move me to tears. I don’t see that as a fault any more.

Alone but not lonely

Introverts are rarely bored on our own. In fact, we’re often more bored when surrounded by people. We have the ability to completely dive into our passions and hobbies. We can entertain ourselves with our thoughts. Solitude isn’t a concept that frightens us, in fact, it’s rather exciting. We can still get lonely, but we don’t crave attention the way some do.

Incredible listening skills

I’ve listed this one before but it’s such a huge asset. We may be still working on our speaking skills (I’m still working on speaking up when I want to contribute) but we’ve got listening skills down to an art. Everyone wants to be heard so we’re a valuable commodity in a loud and noisy world. We often have a quieter presence which can be very calming to those around us. However, when we are deliberate and intentional in our speaking, others take notice pretty quickly.

Thinking a lot

We think and analyze. We mull things over and turn them around and upside down in our minds. As a result, I’ve rarely said anything I regretted. This can be a huge benefit as we usually don’t intentionally say offensive things. Of course, people may be offended by our lack of speech as well, but you can’t win them all 😉

What are some things you’re grateful for?

Image credit: “Harbour Lands Park…” by Jeff S. PhotoArt at HDCan is licensed under CC by 2.0

Quote of the day

Introverts are great listeners and we pride ourselves on that. We also pride ourselves on choosing our words carefully and not speaking unless we have something to say. Both are fine qualities that I admire, but I’ve also found myself in relationships where I’ve done all the listening. One of my less-than-admirable qualities is that I like feeling wise. It’s my own little power trip to be the one to whom people come with their problems. But eventually I hit a listening wall and realize a relationship has become imbalanced, that I have sublimated my own need to be heard to my need for that very special type of oh-so-wise power. And then I get resentful and blame the other person. Everybody loses.

The fact is, though, that I have to force myself to speak up when it comes to my own needs. This isn’t all about introversion—it’s a mishmash of all sorts of things about my personality and past—but because my comfort zone is listening, as it is for so many introverts, I can easily sink into a sort of complacent receptor mode. This isn’t fair to me and it isn’t fair to the people in my life, including my husband, who shouldn’t be left to guess my needs. So next time you think keeping your thoughts to yourself is doing your relationship a favour, think again, to be sure.

-Sophia Dembling

Being a good listener

ConverseGrowing up, I have always been quiet and reserved with most people. This, coupled with my desire to understand others, has made me a rather good listener. I don’t say this to brag, but after 25 years of practice, you get really good at it. Even now, people will come to me with their problems, their struggles, and their joys. And I love being able to share in their lives and understand them a bit more. But it wasn’t until I made some really good friends, that I realized that I don’t always have to be the listener. There are people in my life now that are interested in me. They want to know how I’m doing, what I’ve been up to, and what things really matter. And I’m so grateful for these people.

But I’m still struggling at work. One girl at work has a very overpowering presence. She talks loudly, is always talking out loud to herself, and will shout questions across the room to the person seated behind me. When we talk, she does all the talking. Its not as if I don’t enjoy listening to her, because I do. But when I try to respond to a question she asks, she’ll cut me off before I finish, as if she already knows what I’m going to say. Or she’ll say what she wants to say, and then will walk away. Even if its an interesting topic I want to reply to, she’s already across the room. It drives me crazy.

Conversations, in my mind, should be an equal amount of speaking and listening by each person. Giving time to think about what’s being said and to formulate a response is so important, especially for an introvert who needs more time to think. My idea of a perfect conversation is a well balanced exchange of thoughts and ideas. And while this does happen from time to time, its definitely the exception to the rule.

I love listening to others. But I also want to be heard. When someone cuts off my train of thought, its upsetting. Even if they aren’t purposely doing it to irritate me, it sends the message that they aren’t interested in what I have to say. And I never know how to respond. I’m not a confrontational person, so I’m not going to shout, “I wasn’t done speaking”. But maybe I should start saying something.

How do you get others to listen to you?

Image credit: “Deep in conversation” by Ross Pollack is licensed under CC by 2.0

5 lovely things people say and do

SmilingI hope everyone had a great holiday break! In the spirit of being thankful, I wanted to post something positive. I recently posted 5 things people should never say or do… ever. You can click here if you’d like to read it. I wanted to follow up with a more positive post. Here are five lovely things that people say or do.

1. Thank you.

This one is huge. Hearing someone say ‘thank you’ always makes me smile. Even though its considered common courtesy, its becoming more and more rare. But I think its so important that we thank others for what they do, even if its just ringing you through at the grocery store.

2. Please.

I love it when people show this extra level of courtesy. Even if what I’m doing is part of my job, or something I was going to do regardless, I really love when people say ‘please’. It makes me smile and I feel appreciated. Its amazing how much this little word affects me in a positive way.

3. What do you think?

When people genuinely ask my opinion about something, I’m more than happy to give it. And it makes me feel closer to that person too, as they are interested in what I have to say. I’m always really appreciative when people take time to find out what’s on my mind.

4. People who pay attention to what I’ve said/done in the past.

I love it when people remember that I love Phantom of the Opera, and they text me random song lyrics. Or they’ll bring up something I’ve said in the past. It shows that they were really paying attention and it makes me happy that they remember these little things about me.

5. Listening.

This is also a big one for me. As someone who does the majority of the listening in conversations, I’m always grateful for those that are willing to listen to me. The people who don’t interrupt, but let me finish my thoughts.

These five points are pretty basic, but they make my day so much brighter. What are some lovely things that people say or do for you?

Image credit: “Smile” by lauren rushing is licensed under CC by 2.0