Being a quiet person is not easy, it comes with its own share of problems. Ask the one who first comes to your mind when we talk about quiet people and he/she will probably tell you why.
Our society has a long tradition of trying to define what’s normal, maybe because we find it difficult to accept the fact that we are all unique in our different ways. However, often loud is treated as normal and extroverts are favored over introverts.
There are many wrong ideas and assumptions about quiet people floating around that does not make it any easier. Here are a few, demystified, to maybe help you understand the quite ones better.
1: ‘They do not know how to talk’.
This is an absurd assumption where 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.
Sometimes, it even drives them to believe that the quiet person is shy. The fact, however, is that ‘being shy’ and ‘being quiet’ are not synonymous, they are two different things. All shy people may be quiet but all quiet people are not shy.
2: “Is everything alright?”
People often have the 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 such questions could become pestering and it makes the quiet person even quieter.
Some go the extra mile with some pep talk— “Don’t take life too seriously”, “Don’t be so serious”, “Cheer up! Everyone has problems.”
‘Being quiet’ does not equate to ‘being serious’ and neither should one imagine quiet people shouldering the world’s problems only because they are quiet.
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!” some would complain and label the quiet ones as arrogant and ignore them whenever they run into them in future.
4: “Why are you so quiet?”
While one set of people carelessly conclude and tag quiet people as arrogant, the other set empathizes with them and ask them difficult and unsettling 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 very 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. Worse is when they’re going to isolate the quiet one “because he is just too quiet” or “maybe he just needs his time”.
5: Writing off as dumb or looking up to 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.