Growing up, I was known as the “quiet, nerdy kid”. I didn’t talk much during meals, at school, or social gatherings.
Often, people thought I was anti-social or lacking presentation skills. Some of my friends even had the first impression that I hated them when we first met. Just because I didn’t talk (and with my RBF), they assumed I didn’t want to befriend them.
Or there were times in conversations, I didn’t engage in them and people thought I was silently judging all of them, but in fact, I was thinking and absorbing what everyone had to say.
I’m sure if you are a quiet person, you are under constantly assumed to be shy, impolite, timid, or even arrogant. I feel you. But in reality, most quiet people don’t fit into the assumptions, and the reason for these misconceptions and misunderstandings is because we communicate in a different way.
There’s no right or wrong when it comes to communication, and I think it’s time to let everyone know how we act and think as quiet people.
We are quiet in person, talkative in mind.
When we don’t say anything, it doesn’t mean our minds are blank.
Stephen Hawking once said, “Quiet people have the loudest minds.” It’s true, we store a lot of deep thoughts in our minds, but we keep our sarcastic comments and jokes in our brains as well.
We are usually thinkers, and often over-thinkers. We create conversations in our heads to help us think, plan, evaluate, and execute our ideas before saying it out loud or diving into actions.
We gain information through different means.
While some people learn about others through interactions and exchanging information in conversations, we like to observe others and everything happening around.
My dad once taught me the art of observation. He thinks you could tell a lot about a person only through observing their appearances and mannerisms.
Say you meet someone new. What that person is wearing, their body language, and eye contact can give you a rough idea of who that person is.
Of course, sometimes simply by observation is not enough, quiet people do start conversations when we are interested to know more about a certain person.
We are not necessarily shy.
The general norm is the more you speak, the more confident you sound. And sometimes, people categorize all quiet people as lacking confidence or scared to present themselves. But for some quiet people, we are not afraid of the spotlight, and we are sociable too. Speaking to us is a preference rather than a must-do action in social situations. We don’t mind to share our ideas, thoughts, and experiences.
We don’t hate you because we are quiet.
The easiest way to tell the other person you are interested in develop a relationship is definitely through speaking. But just because we aren’t as talkative as others, we don’t mean to be rude or cold. There are still many ways and channels to express our affection to our loved ones.
Everyone has a different idea on what it means to be “neutral”. Some people believe they must be smiling and asking “how are you” to convey a message of “we’re good”. But for others, like quiet people, we believe indicating “everyone’s fine as when it was one hour ago” is to do nothing. In this sense, quiet people are deemed as cold or mean, because we express the same message differently.
We take speaking seriously.
We believe we need to think carefully before we say anything, because there are way too many times where something is said at the wrong time, wrong place, and to the wrong person.
And don’t get me wrong, I am not saying talkative people don’t think before they speak. I enjoy listening to talkative people share their stories and fill the room with their presence. Just we hold different thoughts about what speaking should mean.
It’s not about helping a quiet person, but understanding.
From time to time, others want to “help” me (with a good intention) in sharing sessions. They think I have stage fright, or I can’t come up with things to say, or I have problem disclosing information about myself. To some quiet people, these assumptions might be true, but for me, I don’t find expressing myself difficult.
I hope this article gives you more insight to quiet people and I’m sure you gain more perspective on how yourself or others think!