Talkative folks, have you ever wondered what the quiet people in your social group are thinking? I can’t climb inside the minds of your friends but I can tell you what I’m thinking about at social gatherings as someone who is quiet in real life.
Sometimes I have nothing to say. This isn’t a negative thing. My mind simply doesn’t always have things to add to the conversation so I soak up what everyone else is discussing instead. I’m lucky to have a few friends who are amazing story-tellers in person or online and I could sit and listen to them (or read their sites) for hours without once uttering a peep.
I’m watching everyone’s body language. How you say something is much more important than what you’re actually saying. One can learn a lot about someone by how they move, sit and interact with everyone else.
Loquacious friends are awesome. I have friends who can talk a mile a minute and I love that about them. Every so often one of them will ask if their boisterous ways overwhelm me. Normally they don’t. If I hang out with someone it’s because we click. It is also riveting to hang out with people on the opposite side of the introvert/extrovert spectrum. We see the world in radically different ways and as cliched as this is going to sound there is definitely something to be said for embracing this and learning from one another.
I don’t have an opinion yet. If everyone is discussing, say, their favourite variety of sea cucumber or various theological interpretations of a particular bible verse I’m probably not going to jump into the middle of the debate.
You learn about others by listening to their stories. There’s nothing wrong with talking, of course, but if I want to get to know a new friend better it is best done by listening to what they say, how they say it and what they leave unsaid.
Rarely I’m quiet because someone has just put his or her foot in their mouth. I know that I’ve cringed over something I said that came out entirely wrong more than once. What was meant to be a lighthearted observation sometimes falls flat. Or maybe it was a question that was taken in entirely the wrong manner. Either way, I’d prefer that others ignore the dumb stuff that slips out of my mouth every so often so I do the same thing for them.
Finally silence isn’t a conversational cockroach. It doesn’t need to be exterminated. In fact, it can add to the conversation more than additional words if what would have been said is inane or repetitive. I’d rather my words mean something than talk just for the sake of exercising my larynx. 🙂
Fellow quiet people, have I missed anything? Do you disagree with any of my points?
Talkative people, what is your first reaction to a quiet friend at a social gathering? Did anything you read today surprise you?
The thing I like best about being a quiet person is that if saying I can not respond and I don’t have to debate with stupid people. Of course, I will speak up if I feel wrongly enough, but those are usually topics that I’m knowledgeable about so I feel like I’m educating. Ugh, I sound like a snob. Unfortunately many “talkers” think that about quiet people anyway.
* if I don’t like what they are saying * if I feel strongly enough Another perk of being a quiet person is that there are fewer opportunities to put my foot in my mouth
I know exactly what you mean.
It’s not a snobbish thing at all (although I can see how someone could make that assumption at first glance.)
There’s just something to be said for saving comments for topics about which we actually have knowledge. 🙂
They say that music is really all about the pauses and silences between the notes…
Yes, I’ve heard that before. Without the silence it would just be noise after a while.
[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by J Owens. J Owens said: RT @TorontoLydia: New at On the Other Hand: What the Quiet People are Thinking: http://bit.ly/dTf4c6 […]
I happen to both a talkative and a quiet person. In surroundings I’m familiar with, I can be quite talkative and animated. However, in a social gathering, I tend to be very quiet and hug the wall. Of course, this has to do with my Social Anxiety Disorder. Crowds unnerve me to no end and, since I am bereft of the ability to interpret body language and nuance, I’m never sure what people really mean anyway! 😉
Interesting. I wasn’t think about it from this angle but I can definitely see how anxiety what, where and when we speak. How long does it take you to grow more comfortable with a new friend?
I am an animated, talktative extrovert who is completely comfortable in most social settings and groups. I am married to the exact opposite of that so it helps my understanding and perspective of the quiet ones! Just the other day my husband laughed at something I said and when I asked him why he thought that was funny he just said “I was just wondering if your mind ever stops”. I always have something to say…sometimes to my detrement!
I am very accepting of introverts and don’t feel that they are snobs or that I need to draw them out as some might. I ‘think’ that I am a good listener, which doesn’t always occur in a talkative person, but over the years I ‘ve tried very hard to develop that in order to give a bit of control to my animated opinions and conversation.
I love to talk. But, I also like to listen to others and get to know them. I think quiet people have a lot to say if we loud ones will only learn to listen.
I can’t wait for the day when I am in the same room with you, Lydia. I think it will be a fun converstion!!
“I think quiet people have a lot to say if we loud ones will only learn to listen. ”
I agree. It just takes a little bit of encouragement to get us started at times!
Someday we’re going to meet in person and have an amazing conversation. 🙂
my first reaction to a quiet person is to wonder what they are thinking, and feeling that they have a lot to add to the topic, if only the rest of us would give them a chance to talk!
Hi, Lydia! I really enjoyed this post. Maybe because sometimes I’m the talkative one and sometimes I’m the quiet one, with friends at both ends of the spectrum. I’ve always most enjoyed the friendships in which lively conversations are also filled with comfortable stretches of silence, where no one feels an anxious need to fill that quiet space with chatter.
Sometimes it seems to me that it’s become an unruly cacophony out there, with so many people so busy pontificating, opining or just thoughtlessly jabbering that there’s not nearly enough genuine listening, ruminating or mindful responding taking place. I love your own philosophy about balancing speaking with silence, and it reminds me of these two favorite quotes, whose advice I try to keep in mind:
“Before you speak, ask yourself: Is it kind, is it true, is it necessary, does it improve upon the silence?”
~Shirdi Sai Baba (Also attributed to the Quakers)
“Let your speech be better than silence, or be silent.”
~Dionysius, the Elder
Thanks for another reminder that, as my husband likes to say, “There’s nothing wrong with quiet!” 🙂
Thank you, Laloofah. Great quotes, btw.
It’s fascinating that you switch between the two (although I do in certain situations as well! It just takes me a while to get to know someone well enough to switch over to a very talkative way of interacting with others. )
Do you find that you tend to be talkative or quiet more often or do you switch between the two more or less equally?
You know Lydia, I’m not sure! I think it depends on several factors, like how I’m feeling, how comfortable I am with the other person (or people) and the situation, what the topic of conversation is, etc. But I know I’m usually more talkative with people I know well and in one-on-one situations than I am in groups, and I tend to be quieter with chatty people, and chattier with quiet people (my husband is very quiet, so with him I usually chatter like a magpie on steroids, poor guy! LOL)
And I’m usually much chattier in writing than I am in person! 🙂
I’m also an introvert with quite a few extrovert tendencies (probably from having moved around a great deal growing up and finding myself in the position of needing to make new friends fairly quickly if I were to make them at all), so that might have something to do with my habit of switching between talkative and quiet.
I have a few friends who switch back and forth like I do, but most are more consistently one way or the other. I’d never thought of it before!
Happy New Year, by the way! 🙂
Happy New Year to you as well!
You sound like my husband. He, too, switches between various degrees of talkativeness and sitting quietly depending on the topic of conversation and the sorts of people around him. He calls it being an “omnivert.” 🙂
Flat Stanley is getting quieter with age. Interesting, watching these changes. Used to be you couldn’t shut FS up.
Now that you mention it I have grown just a little more talkative over time. As a teenager I used to be much more awkwardly quiet. I still don’t like small talk but I am growing more accustomed to it. Interesting.