“Q” is for Quiet

This is the 17th post in the Blogging A-to-Z Challenge.

Why are you so quiet? 

You’re so quiet!

You’re too quiet for your own good.

It’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for.

You’re going to be a talk show host one day and everyone on yearbook staff will wonder why you were always so quiet.

I hope in a future class your participation will be as good as your written work.

Let’s talk. You need to speak up more in class because it’s 10% of your participation grade. Is there anything I can do to help?

You need to be outgoing for the Information Science Master’s program.

Look at you sitting there, all quiet.

Look, Michelle is talking

You’re the quietest person I know.

Shhh…you’re one of the FEW people I wish would talk MORE.

You never say more than five words in a day, don’t you?

I heard all of the above throughout my life. I grew up in an introverted family, so my personality was accepted there. It was only when I got to school that people commented on my quietness. Specifically, middle school, high school, and college. As an introvert, I can be quiet at times. Growing up, I took it all to heart and it became my identity. In recent years, thanks to therapy and lots of self-reflection (I do a lot of that these days) I’m slowly working to shed that identity. By “shed that identity”, I don’t mean that I’m trying to become extroverted. Rather, the goal is to shed the labels and accept who I am, at any given moment. There may be times when I’m “quiet” and times when I’m “loud”. It depends on context — who I’m talking to, where we’re located, how we’re feeling at the moment, what we’re doing, etc. It doesn’t have to be a black and white thing. There’s no either-or. I may act quiet, but quiet is not me.

I had a chance to read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain a few years ago, and it really resonated with me! Here’s the review I wrote after finishing the book:

I’m a hardcore introvert, and I appreciated this book. It’s hard to write a review that’s short yet still conveys the main points. I’m going to do my best. In a nutshell, Susan Cain describes the rise of the “Extrovert Ideal” in the US Society, and how our schools and businesses increasingly came to be designed especially for extroverts. However, introverts do exist, and we’re not exactly a small minority — as much as one-third to one-half of all people in the US are introverts! Introversion isn’t something that needs to be “fixed”. It’s simply a different style — a style that can bring (and has brought) positive contributions to society. But since most schools and businesses are designed for extroverts, it’s challenging for introverts to be at their best so that they can flourish. Cain illustrates her points by describing numerous personality studies; describing her experiences at various “self improvement” conferences and workshops, and by sharing the stories of people who have identified as introverts. Some of these people were clients she worked with, and others were famous people throughout history and the present day.

Cain touches on the fact that in some countries, such as China, introversion is preferred, and she offers insights on why that’s the case (one reason could be related to the fact that the US tends to have an “everybody for him/herself” mentality, whereas countries like China tend to see the individual as a member of a larger group).

I loved the section where she describes the concept of “Free Trait Agreement” — when you agree that you’ll bring out your pseudo-extrovert side for however long you can take, and only for situations and causes that have meaning for you because it’s part of a greater plan in your life. Then you can run back home and relax, guilt-free.

This book will help improve the communication between introverts and extroverts. According to Cain, our society needs both personality styles working together so that we can produce great things. To me, it’s harmony — we embrace harmony in music, colors, nature — so let’s embrace harmony in personality as well. Introversion and extroversion BOTH rule!



  1. Interesting post, it is difficult in school when you’re too quiet, because it’s hard for the teachers to know if you’re paying attention or off in lala land. What’s interesting to me is everyone who knows me would say without thinking I’m a complete extrovert, I don’t know a stranger, complete strangers tell me their life story while I’m waiting in the check out lane…and all of that is true, very true. But, I love quiet and am very comfortable with quiet. When I’m on the computer I never have music on, or the tv on for white noise. I don’t like loud groups, I don’t like people who talk loud and non stop. I don’t like the chaos or the noise that comes with it. I’m perfectly content to sit in a room and knit or read while someone else is reading or watching tv. I don’t feel the need to fill the air with blah blah blah and I know many people are uncomfortable with quiet and feel they should speak. I never turn on a radio in the car. I’m am very much a people person and it’s not uncommon for me to talk to several hundred people in a day with my job……….strange how most of us are really far more complex then labels make us out to be.

  2. Nothing wrong with being quiet as far as I’m concerned. I have a quiet son and a noisy son – there’s a balance there somewhere 😉

  3. I’m really quiet too, and people always thought I was stuck up. Elementary teachers praised me for being quiet and a good worker, but high school teachers wanted me to participate more, too. It’s funny – looking back I thought I was always a quiet kid, but my mom said I talked up a storm at home, and she thought my kindergarten teacher had the wrong kid when she told my mom I was so quiet!

    – Allison

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