Do loud people know that they are loud? I feel as though this is something I have previously thought and written about. I don’t think it had a whole post dedicated to itself though. So here goes… Do loud people realize how loud they are? Do people occasionally, casually, point out to them, as they so often do with quiet people, how loud they are?
I have been thinking about this lately because I read this book called ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’. I am a silent soul, except when I’m not, but at default settings, I would say that I am silent. Having been born this way, I can recount numerous situations where, perhaps in a group setting, conversation and back and forth banter is ongoing and for one reason or another, or simply because this is how I am made, I am silent. I follow the conversation, possibly quipping in once or twice, possibly not, but just being myself. Someone will then turn to me, or perhaps come up to me afterwards and ask why I am being so quiet. Ask if I am well, if all is well with me and mine, then perhaps plead with me to not be so quiet. As though my silence is sacrilegious, makes them uncomfortable.
Well, according to the research that this book is based on, we live in a culture that celebrates extroversion. School and class assignments are littered with grades that are based on group work and class participation, both situations where the loud, and loudness is often interpreted as assertion, carry the day and therefore score better. In a world where at a social mixer for your company, conventional wisdom prompts you to be the loud one, and loudness is often interpreted as charisma, because the charismatic guy is the memorable one. How else do you expect to make an impression? In a room with so many people, and so many powerful people with whose interaction your career can be propelled to heavens knows where, you must stand out. Be the guy that your CEO remembers, be the guy that that rich investor remembers.
Sometimes it feels as though the unwritten flip-side of all this is…
DO NOT be the quiet guy.
DO NOT be the guy in the circle who follows conversation without contributing much.
DO NOT be the fly on the wall.
It does not get you anywhere with the added disadvantage of making people somewhat uneasy.
Point is, I am used to constantly being asked,
‘Why are you so quiet?’
‘Why are you so silent?’
‘Is everything okay? You haven’t said much.’
My response is always, ‘I am naturally a silent soul.’ Except when I am not. This response confuses people because I also have the uncanny ability to not be silent, at all. This can be a story for another day.
When I am being loud, however, NEVER have I had anyone come up to me after, or ask in conversation, ‘Why are you so loud today?’
Which brings me to my current question, ‘Do loud people realise that they are loud?’ Does anyone ever go up to someone and point out to them, ‘Man, you were so loud this morning when you came in! Is everything alright? Is all well with you and yours?’
I suspect this does not happen as often as the converse.
Like the book suggests, like I have iterated, we live in a world that celebrates extroversion. It is the yard stick via which success in some instances is measured. The louder and more out there you are, the better. (Of course loud AND knowledgeable.) Now, because it is what is conventionally considered the ‘norm’, it does not typically arouse unease in those around you, being the loud one.
Is that true though?
Alternatively, those within whom unease is stirred, are the silent souls. Me!
That is how we have even ended up here, from me being made uncomfortable by people’s loudness.
Up until a few months ago, the company I work for shared office space with another. That other company had this loud guy. This really LOUD guy! He would pick up a call and we would all, whether willing or unwilling, be privy to the details of his end of that conversation. This irritated the daylights out of me. I would sit at my desk and just silently fume. Fume and fume and fume. His loudness made me uncomfortable. I mean, even when in a meeting, in the enclosed meeting rooms, if he laughed and started talking excitedly, the rest of us would have to bear with all the details of whatever interaction he was having. He is one person I have not missed seeing on a daily basis since that company moved.
He is however not what has brought these thoughts to the fore of my conscious mind again. There is another loud person at the periphery of my life, who, on account of his loudness, literally invades my peace of mind. Our new neighbour. I am not sure if he is our new neighbour or not. The house next door still seems unoccupied, but every night, at about 9pm, which is around the time I am powering down and going to sleep, this guy takes calls outside the house.
Okay, so he could possibly be taking the calls from inside the house with the window or door open, but I hear him as though he was standing right next to me. Or talking right into my head.
Perhaps I would be entertained if I could understand what he was saying and I was privy to interesting details about his life, but he speaks in vernacular so all I hear is the LOUD.
So, to the world at large, silence may make you uneasy. Silent souls will often struggle to make conversation just so that that unease is reduced for you. It would be nice if you took into consideration the fact that sometimes, constant chatter makes us uneasy. That loud banter may make someone uncomfortable because it inadvertently robs them of their peace of mind.
I may not come up to you after and ask you, ‘Why are you so loud?’ You may not be conscious of the fact that you are loud in the way that I cannot escape the fact that I am silent, because I am constantly reminded, but once in a while, take into consideration the fact that in a world where extroversion is elevated and celebrated, introverts still have to survive. So when I walk away from a group conversation after having said nothing, maybe my mind just needs a bit of silence. And when I am glaring at you from across the room and you cannot figure out why, maybe your loudness feels like it is right in my head and it is preventing me from even being able to string a thought together.
A Silent Soul.