quiet people poll

I’m curious to see how often this happens to other people.
I’m a fairly quiet person. I’m can be quite talkative, but when I want to listen to someone else or I don’t have anything interesting, funny, insightful or useful to add to a conversation I tend to keep my mouth shut.
This apparently annoys people. Often, whether it’s a social occasion like a recent wedding shower or just carpooling with family members, someone will look at me when I’m being quiet and command “Say something!” Or, if they’re feeling especially witty,“Shut up, Summer!”
This pisses me off to no end. What in God’s name makes people think this is a good idea? When I want someone to speak, I’ve found a good strategy is to ask them a question, rather than put them on the spot.
So, does this ever happen to anyone else?
Alternately, has anyone ever been the person demanding that someone else talk? If so, why?

Yup. Happens to me all the time. “You’re too quiet!”

Or they’ll go the sarcastic route… “You talk too much, Jim.”

It can be annoying, as my major RL social interaction tends to be passive (i.e. “absorbing the atmosphere and cameraderie”). Of course, if you do somehow get me talking, you’ll regret it. I’ve been known, once the floodgates open, to babble for 20-30 minutes straight.


I can be quiet sometimes too(especially at work) and find it annoying when people comment on it in the manner you describe. It is similar to the “Smile” command that has been discussed in several pit threads.

I am not one to stay completely silent during social events and sometimes I’m even the one doing most of the talking. But I don’t (usually) chatter away like a mindless baboon when I have nothing to say. If you want to me to speak then engage me in an interesting conversation. Also, take a moment to think for a moment why I am not talking. If I’m sitting at my desk at work typing away at my computer and not talking, chances are I’m busy.

I’m pretty quiet, too. People do seem to resent this, whether I like it or not. I’ve taken to asking them questions about themselves if they seem intent on making me talk to them. I’ve made some good friends this way, who end up respecting my silence after a while.

I agree that those who crack on us quiet people are being rude. But I can forgive them – they just don’t realize that we’re different than they are.

I don’t understand this either. I’m not a very talkative person a lot of the time and people at work keep interpreting this as meaning either A) I’m mad at someone or B) I’m being stuck-up. How about the real reason? I
just don’t have anything to say. I’ve never been good at pointless small-talk. If there’s a discussion on a subject of interest though, it can be hard to shut me up so it’s not like I’m ignoring people.

Why do so many feel like they have to fill all the spaces? What’s wrong with a little companionable silence?


That’s too funny.:slight_smile:

I too have been told I’m too quiet. That’s because I’m frikkin shy dammit!!

Around people I have just met or not familiar with, I won’t say much.
But, once I get to know a person, I’ll open up, then you’ll wish I was still a quiet person.

Yeah, people took my quietnes as being stuck up, too. After a while they realized that I was trash, just like them.
Then we got along fine.

And then again, if I don’t have anything pertinent to say, I will say nothing.
On a message board, it’s called lurking.

“My name is zgystardst, and I’m a quiet person.”

I’ll just repeat what I posted in this recent thread: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=60430

We live in an era that trumpets acceptance of differences, some of which could have gotten someone beaten up or even killed in the past. It’s ironic that at the same time simply not talking is stigmatized as strange, weird, or offensive, in many cases by people who have benefited from the new acceptance.

I like it!

I’ve found that by at least pretending you are mad, people are prevented from demanding that you speak or offering you inane bits of chit chat about the weather or local gossip.

I’m of the school that you do not speak to the person next to you while standing at a urinal. Something oddly discomforting about holding your manhood and talking about baseball.

I also do not believe in forming elevator friendships. You know, those silly little banters with people that you only see for 5 minutes a day while going to seperate floors. Personally, I don’t care how your wife is doing or how cute your kids are or what you’re doing this weekend.

I’m such a non-people person that I’m often forgotten in conversations, and that suits me just fine. An advantage to being overlooked is that when you do say something, it almost always seems wittier, and it catches peoples attention.

Of course, it doesn’t get you invited to very many parties or social events, but that’s a sacrifice I can live with.

Hey, that happens to me a lot - though it is getting disguised as: “So, what do you want to talk about?” more and more often. Honestly, I’d rather just listen to other people talk and enjoy their company; I don’t consider my life to be of sufficient interest to others for it to be a subject of conversation, and I can hardly claim to really posess wisdom about anything else.

Oh yeah - we quiet people have an advantage, too; “even a fool, when silent, is counted wise.”

Le Sang

I’m a quiet person too. I am shy, but that’s not the only reason I don’t talk much. When I’m in a group, even of people I know really well, I also prefer to sit and listen to others have a conversation. It’s fun for me! What bugs me is that usually someone will come up to me and ask me if I’m enjoying myself, implying that if I’m quiet and simply listening I must not be having a good time. It’s nice for them to check on me, but I find it disturbing that people think you can only have fun while making noise.

Here’s to companionable silence!


I got that from my inlaws when I first married, and it drove me nuts. None of my family or friends were that rude, and I wanted to be especially careful with them for my wife’s sake. But, there was no way I would ever want to be a loud backslapping good ole boy just to fit in.

Eventually an even quieter person entered the family group and they focused on her, so I was off the hook. After a couple of times hearing them push her around and let me be, I flat out told the group to let her be, that they weren’t helping and I should know. Naturally, they were too set in their ways to give it up, but at least I got to tell them off, and she said she was greatful that someone had spoken up.

I don’t do small talk (except bantering with a close friend), and I hate talking to people on the phone. I don’t like crowds or noise. Even among small groups of friends, I generally listen, nod, and laugh more than I speak (Dopefests seem to be something of an exception, although the fact that I’m always taking notes may affect my level of interaction there).

More often I get the “Are you OK?” and “What’s wrong?” reactions, which annoy me. Only once has someone accused me of being stuck up. That did get me to speak. Specifically, it got me to tell him to go away so I could continue manipulating the other little pawns. I’m sure it did nothing to dispel his misperception, but it was fun.

I don’t consider myself particularly shy. I can talk to anyone about anything that interests me (if it interests my conversational partner, so much the better :slight_smile: ). I just prefer to sit and listen. I find it restful–I’ve noticed that after a long, grueling day of game production, I can sit quietly and listen to my IFGS buddies’ war stories and perk right back up again. I suspect that this comes in part from growing up in a place (a family business) where there was usually a soft buzz of conversation in the background, but few conversational demands on me–I could sit down and take a nap while people talked around me if I felt like it.

Ummm…patently, I’m a bit more talkative in cyberspace. I’ll shut up now.

What I’ve never understood—if THEY’RE so uncomfortable—why can’t THEY START a conversation. I don’t exactly hear THEM being OSCAR WILDE. I’d LOVE to partake in some witty reparte.

I’m as interesting or as boring as the person I’m with!

My parents used to tell me that if I wasn’t chattering all the time, my life would be ruined because I wouldn’t be able to communicate with people. All they ever talked about in my presense was their jobs, financial situation, etc… It never occurred to them that when I was with people my age who talked about things that a kid would find interesting, I might talk more. Yeah, I was kind of a shy kid, but it wasn’t as bad as my parents wanted to believe.

I am NOT a quiet person. I talk pretty much non-stop, and most of the time people are telling me to shut up, or making up excuses to get away from me.

However…if I ever do stop talking, because I’m doing something, or tired, or just don’t feel like it, I’m instantly bombarded with the “why aren’t you talking” stuff.

“You’re so quiet, SV – are you mad at me?”

“What’s wrong – you’re not saying anything.”

At work I get “Are you here? I didn’t hear you and I thought you must be on vacation or something.”

Damned if I do, and damned if I don’t.

I’m very quiet if I don’t know people around me and I envy those who seem to be able to strike up a conversation with anyone anywhere. I had a girlfriend who could do that. She even struck up conversations with a couple of people in an emergency room where we were waiting for a mutual friend to get stitched up.

If I know the people well, I’m talkative, but if not well, then I tend to watch what I say very closely and conversation can lag. I’m happiest with small groups of friends and companionable periods of silence.

I’ve been considered, at times, a snob, antisocial, a homosexual, arrogant, a wallflower, stupid, shy, standoffish, and even wimpy because I’m quiet until I get comfortable with people and places. In school, they thought I didn’t care in class because I rarely asked questions, and at least one job gave me a low status report for the same reasons. Well, I had no questions to ask! I listened very well!

The worst situation I’ve ever been in was my cousin’s wedding.

The wedding party was composed of nine members of the groom’s family and me, who had never met any of them. They were all from different areas; Texas, Swift Current, Calgary, etc. and spent the majority of the time recollecting and catching up.

I really had no place in this conversation as I had no idea what or who they were talking about, so I just sat back and absorbed. Meanwhile I’d get the occasional, “boy you’re quiet” hooha.

Although it was really starting to bug me, nothing was as bad as when the head table was introduced. When the M.C. (who I’d never talked to before in my life) got to me he began with, “Megan, although very quiet…”


I wouldn’t say I’m quiet but I am also not a compulsive talker. That is to say I talk when I have something to say. I have noticed that the more comfortable I am with a person (ie the better I know them, etc.) the easier it is to be with them in silence. I don’t really like inane chit chat.

This may be a little of topic but what the hey. One thing that really bugs me is the way “How’s it going?” has become equivilant with “hello”. People will be walking by and say “How’s it going?” with out even waiting for a reply. God that bugs me.

Ok, so I’m not shy, I like to talk but I’m also a GREAT listener. I have on occasion bugged people who are quiet to talk. Silence does not make me overly uncomfortable, though. Hell, I’ll be happy to just sit with someone I don’t know for a half hour if they aren’t uncomfortable with the silence.

The reason I DO bug people who are quiet is b/c I don’t want to be monopolizing the conversation and the other person being really really bored with what I have to say. I mean, come on!, we all love to talk about ourselves, but I know what it is like to have someone talk to you for 2 hours about themselves and not ask you a THING about what you are doing. For some reason I attract these people as friends. (something must be wrong with me)

What bugs the shit out of me with quiet people is when you ask them a question (which could be answered other than yes/no) and they give me a monosyllabic answer. ARGH! How frustrating! I want to know something about YOU! Gimme a little help, here! Pulling teeth is not something I wanna do at a party!

In a group situation, the reason I try to get shy/quiet people to open up is b/c I KNOW they could contribute to the conversation, and could have a GREAT insight, but don’t speak up! I do try to stay away from the “you’re so quiet” comments, etc.

I guess trying to get quiet people to talk is a big frustration of mine. Who knew? :smiley: