Foghorn-Americans: advice needed for dealing with the terminally loud

So this weekend, the spousal unit finally convinced me to go to an informal dinner/game night with his group of church friends (he goes, I don’t, and I was a little reluctant because I was afraid it was going to be all about church stuff. Turns out it wasn’t, but that’s beside the point.)

Anyway, so I had a good time. Folks were nice, and we mostly spent the evening playing various social games like Taboo and Guesstures. Except for one thing, I would have had a really good time: one of the women there was LOUD. I’m talking LOUD! She was incapable of saying anything in a voice that wouldn’t have carried to the other end of the block (I’m only exaggerating a little here). She’s one of those exuberant middle-aged “cheerleader” types, highly extroverted (while I’m a raving introvert), and excited about everything. She was literally giving me a headache. Every time I tried to get away from her, she ended up sitting near me again (she was helping out with game facilitation, so she was moving around a lot while most of us stayed put). At one point everyone was out in the kitchen having dessert, half the group was yelling to get over each other, and a few of us excused ourselves to go to the other room because the volume level was getting painful.

I’m told by the spouse that she’s not hard of hearing (though I’m not sure how he’d know), she’s just like that. And let me reiterate–she’s very nice. Aside from being way too extroverted for me, she’s a friendly, genuinely nice person. So I certainly don’t want to offend her by saying, “Yo! Tone it down a bit! We’re all right here, and we’re not deaf!” But if I’m ever going to go back to another one of these events, I’m going to have to come up with a coping mechanism for dealing with this. Does anyone else have a sensitivity to loud voices? What do you do when you get into loud groups and earplugs aren’t an option?

I really don’t see a solution to this, other than not going, or going and sucking it up. I can try to stay away from her, but that’s not always possible. Thoughts?

I swear I would just come out and tell her that her inside voice is too loud for me, and ask her to respect the distance I put between us. Life is too short to be hounded by well meaning but clueless boors.

I have a loud voice, and never knew it was bothersome to others until someone told me.

Anxiously awaiting an answer on this one too. Mostly I just put up with it.

A few weeks back I was at a party at a rock bar, and the noise was deafening. From the rock band? Nope, there wasn’t one, and the house system was down pretty low. But so many people talking in such a small space, basically one had to shout to be heard – so it ended up being a bunch of people shouting in a small space. When I left there, my ears were ringing, like I’d been at a rock concert.

That’s bad enough, but I was in a similar situation yesterday. I was having lunch with a friend in a quaint little bookstore/cafe. Business was booming, and I’m glad it was because it’s a really great place. But one should not have to shout to be heard in a quaint little bookstore/cafe on a quiet rainy Sunday afternoon.

From the other end of the spectrum, some people just have quiet voices, and some people have loud ones. I don’t talk quietly on purpose to make other people not be able to hear me - that’s my voice. I’d say this woman just has a naturally loud voice. Of course, I do make an effort to talk louder so I don’t have to repeat every friggin’ thing I say, so this woman can also make an effort to tone it down. If you get to know her, you could make a joke about it - shushing her when she gets really excited or something.

I have the same problem (I’m trying to get better). I would not take a simple “Inside voice, please!” from a friend amiss.

Same here. I didn’t realize it was particularly loud, but family members have advised me that it is, to the point where it sounds like I’m yelling when I have no intention of doing so. I am simply not aware, on my own, of the volume of my speaking voice, and still need occasional reminders to tone it down. I also tend to get louder – and even less aware – when I’m excited.

So from my experience, I would tell her (nicely, and away from others if possible) that she may not be aware of how loud her voice is, but it really is, and could she please speak more softly. It will probably be necessary to offer occasional reminders (hand gestures might work) when the loudness resumes – if she’s like me, she won’t know it otherwise.

Yeah…if it was somebody I knew better, I’d probably do this (and make a gentle joke about it). But I’ve only met her twice, and the first time I wasn’t exactly on my best foot socially (the spouse introduced me to her and her husband, both of whom have extremely small bubbles of personal space–they like to get right up in your face when they talk to you–and the conversation basically involved them trailing me around the room and eventually backing me into a wall as I struggled desperately to put a reasonable amount of space between us so we could talk comfortably). So as yet I don’t feel like calling her out about it (even in a gentle or joking way) would be the way to go.

I guess I could just not go, but the spouse doesn’t like going by himself (it’s all couples) and I was surprised that I actually liked most of the folks (overly “churchy” folks tend to annoy me, but there was almost no mention of church or religion the whole evening). So far my best idea for dealing is to just wait until she picks a spot to sit, then find one as far from her as I can. She’s loud even across the room, but when she’s yelling in my ear I just want to run away.

So not only is she loud, but she backs you into corners? She basically shouting in your ear? Just don’t go, if you don’t feel up to correcting her. I have no problem holding up a hand and saying “that’s close enough,” but I realize that’s not a solution for everyone.

Some folks are immune to subtlety and nuance. Sooner or later you’re going to have to tell her that her behavior is intrusive if you want her to back off and tone it down.

She didn’t do the back into corners thing on Saturday night, not even close. I think the spouse might have had a gentle word with both her and her husband about my dislike of folks crowding me too close. I think it’s another behavior she just doesn’t realize she does, since she’s really social and bubbly and probably hangs around mostly with other social bubbly people. I’m not sure she knows what do with introverted heathen li’l ol’ me. :slight_smile:

Have you tried lowering your own tone of voice to lower levels to see if she complies?
At least that works on odd psych patients, alcoholics, and agitated prisoners. If you whisper at them or talk in a low voice consistently, they seem to tend to respond in the same way. Might not work in a loud party atmosphere, but it certainly seems to work one on one or in a smaller private conversation.

We have a loud woman where I work. She used to be in a cubicle right outside a doctor’s office, and the doctor asked our supervisor to have a word with her about keeping the volume down. After that, loud woman would say things like, “LET ME BRING THIS OVER THERE SO I DON’T HAVE TO SHOUT! I’M TOO LOUD, YOU KNOW. I NEED TO START KEEPING MY VOICE DOWN OR SOMEONE MIGHT HEAR ME!” Eventually they just had to move her.

One of Jackmannii’s Rules Of Dining Out is that the person at the adjoining table with the loudest, most obnoxious voice invariably talks the most.

That’s no accident - there is a desire (conscious or subconscious) on the part of most of these people to dominate a gathering. One needn’t have intelligence or sparkling wit - just crank up the volume.

I am often louder than I realize because of hearing damage from too many Tool concerts and too many Indy car races. (Well, there is no such thing as too many Tool shows or Indy races…) I have not had my hearing tested, nor do I use a hearing aid, although I am probably a candidate for one.

That said, I would not be offended in the least if someone – in a very nice way – asked me to lower my voice. You could play it off as a joke, “Hey! I’m right here! yuk yuk yuk” I would be mortified if I thought I was giving people headaches because I talk too damn loudly.

The danger of directly saying something is that you’d get someone like me, who would overcompensate by whispering the rest of the night.

I almost pissed off a very soft-spoken DMV lady once while trying to renew my tags. She had such a quiet voice, and as I just posted, I have some hearing damage, so I truly could not hear a friggin word she said to me. There was a plexiglass barrier between us, which was not helping matters much.

I started out with a very rude, “What??? I CAN BARELY HEAR YOU…” and then I saw the eff you look on her face, so I dropped my tone to saccharine quick like a bunny (it was the DMV – not where you wanna piss off the clerk) and said, “You have such a lovely, soft voice, I’m so sorry. I have hearing damage and cannot hear you. Could you speak up just a bit for me please?” This is also the South, where charm and saccharine works. Her face brightened a little when I used the word “lovely” and she made an effort to speak up a bit, although I still had to rely on lip reading to figure out what questions she was asking me. I repeated every question to make sure I heard her right.

While a loud talker often can be rather annoying, volume-wise, I’ve noticed that a lot of quieter or introverted people always assume that the loud talkers are not intelligent or witty, just because they’re being loud. It’s possible to be both.

There’s a quote to the effect that you can be very quiet and thought to possibly be a fool, or open your mouth and remove all doubt.

If you say dumb things in a piercingly loud voice, it enhances the dumbness as well as being generally annoying.

And people who speak so.freaking.quietly that you can barely hear them, even when they’re trying to project can be frustrating as all hell. So there you go. Both loud and quiet voices have their downsides. But inherent intelligence and wit are not correlated with either.

The point is that some people are not dumb, but just simply don’t realize the volume of their voice. It happens.

And as someone who has a voice that carries- I assure you: I’m not looking to get the attention of everyone in wide ear shot. Trust me, I actively reign it in, but I’m just naturally louder than some folks.

My SO has a tendency to be a loud-talker, especially when he gets excited about something. We’ve gotten it to the point where I give him a visual cue (hand straight out with the palm down) and he corrects himself to a normal speaking volume. Part of it is that he comes from a loud family who would just as soon talk over someone than wait their turn, so the loudest “wins”.

I sense that the OP would not mind being in the room with a very quiet person. He doesn’t have to interact with him/her. On the other hand, he’s essentially compelled to be part of the very loud person’s conversations.

I don’t think he has much of an alternative when it comes to gatherings including this person. Either wear earplugs (and strain to hear others) or don’t go if you’re not going to enjoy yourself. Telling such a person to tone it down (however politely) is almost certainly not going to work, and provoke resentment besides.

No one is “naturally loud”. It reflects in large part how you’re brought up. If you’re hard of hearing, that’s another story. A lot of those folks know full well they’re quite loud, but would rather be that way than go to the trouble of getting a hearing aid.