5 mistakes you’ve made in understanding quite people

Being a quiet person is not easy. Ask the one who first comes to your mind when we talk about quiet people and he/she will probably tell you why. There are so many amusing ideas and ridiculous assumptions about quiet people floating around that if I were to write a thesis on this topic, I could have easily come up with a hundred problems we face because of being quiet, but fully acknowledging the fact that this is no thesis, I present to you, 5 common mistakes most make in understanding quiet people.

Mistake 1: ‘They do not know how to talk”. This is an absurd assumption wherein the good people conclude that the quiet ones are struggling to talk, or perhaps they’re at a loss for words, or maybe lacking confidence. “When will you learn to talk?” the familiar ones ask with despair. What’s more, sometimes it even drives them to believe that the quiet person is shy, ignorant of the fact that ‘being shy' and ‘being quiet' are not synonymous, why? because all shy people may be quiet but all quiet people are not shy.

Mistake 2: “Is everything alright?” People have this weird tendency to think that if one is quiet, it’s either because something’s gone wrong in their lives, or because they’re mad at someone or maybe they’re really upset about something. “Are you sure everything’s alright?” would be the second question after a while, “No because you’re being so quiet.” Repeatedly asking them such questions could become pestering for them and it makes the quiet person even quieter. Some go the extra mile – “Don’t take life too seriously”, “Don’t be so serious”, “Cheer up! Everyone has problems.” Why?! ‘Being quiet’ does not equate to ‘being serious’ and neither should one imagine the quiet person shouldering the world’s problems only because he’s quiet.

Mistake 3: ‘They’re all arrogant’. Usually, the easiest way of identifying the quiet person is to look for the person who wouldn’t say much more than ‘Hello!’ or the usual greeting when you meet them. Sometimes they’d greet you with just a smile and leave it at that. The sad assumption here is that they’re arrogant and egoistic. “He didn’t talk to me properly, how mean!” the good people would complain and label the quiet ones as arrogant and ignore them whenever they run into them in future.

Mistake 4: “Why are you so quiet?” While one set of people carelessly conclude and tag the quiet person as ignorant, the other set empathizes with them and asks them difficult and unsettling questions. Most quiet ones do not have an answer to such questions and rightly so because it’s rather difficult to answer such questions. “Um… I don’t know, I’ve been this way all along… I don’t think I’m quiet…” Some people extend this to introductions as well – “Meet Akash… he’s a really silent guy.” This is a good disclosure but occasionally it can also take a turn for the worse. Good in ways that the other person is not going to judge the quiet person as arrogant (Mistake 3). Worse is when they’re going to isolate the quiet one “because he is just too quiet” or “maybe he just needs his time”.

Mistake 5: Writing them off as dumb or looking up to them as intellectuals. When the quiet ones don’t say much they’re standing either of the following two risks. One, the risk of being written off as a featherhead, or two, the risk of being looked up to as an intellectual. Sometimes people move on sidelining the quiet ones, without discussing matters with them or knowing their opinion. At other times, some people seek the advice of the quiet ones thinking of them to be scholarly. Now whether any quiet person would consider the second risk to be a risk at all or not is a subjective question. I for one would still consider that as a risk because for once you can look smarter playing the quiet one but sooner than later, your real smartness is uncovered.