I don’t think any of us are complaining about people who ask us actual questions to get us to talk. Just the people who do the whole “Why aren’t you talking?” thing.
“I have often regreted my speach, never my silence”
-Xenocrates (396-314 B.C.E)
I guess I’m complaining here. I know the quiet people here hate being told the “you’re so quiet thing”, but ERGH!!! I hate being smiled and nodded at! (tiggeril ;)) Not having someone talk is just as frustrating/irritating as having some bozo tell you that “you’re so quiet”. I’m trying to be nice and interested, but I don’t get anything back…sniff Guess I’ll stop trying.
Yep, it’s happened to me. I used to be (as they say) painfully shy, and the remarks just made it worse. Don’t know if you ever get over shyness completely, but I believe I have to a great extent by forcing myself to socialize and even do public speaking at work. Also, now when I go to parties (when my s.o. drags me), I circulate and ask questions and usually find one person I can chat with. Bunnicula I encourage you to keep trying – but don’t ask “yes or no” questions; ask something that calls for more, e.g., “where are you from?” ask about their job; try to find common ground.
JasonDean - I’m not sure you’re off-topic with the “how’s it going” comment; I get “how ya doin’” a lot from store clerks and people I don’t know at work. I’ve noticed that I feel shy when this happens – I guess because I’m unsure how to deal with it. I manage to mutter something like “okay” or “fine,” but as you noted, there’s little time for a response and it is (to me) an awkward moment. I sometimes sense it’s awkward for them too, but then why don’t they just say hi and be done with it.
I had a job in the mid-90s at a computer equipment manufacturing company. I worked in the sales area, but the offices were built surrounding the factory floor, so going from one place in the building to another meant passing nearly everyone who worked there. A fellow in production and I became friendly and went out a few times, and he told me that everyone on the floor referred to me as “that girl who never talks to anyone” or alternately, “the ice princess”. My take on it was, if I’m working, and you’re working, and my work takes me past where you work, why should we have to go through the whole ‘hi, how ya doin, pretty good’ mindless small talk routine. But after the comments, I started making a special effort to be friendlier.
Also, when amongst strangers, or even casual acquaintances, I usually just hang back and listen, a technique that has served me well over the years. When the conversation is outside of one’s realm of experience, one shouldn’t be expected to jump in with any sort of relevant comment. If the main group wants to include the quiet person in actual talking, they should steer the converasation to something that the quiet person can relate to.
Like religion or politics.
I’ve always suspected one of Ford Prefect’s insights on the matter was correct:
if people stop talking, their brains start working.
That’s profoundly uncomfortable for many people, near as I can figure.
Compulsive talkers, throw a smiley face or two in there if it helps.
Too shy to wave?
As for me, I’m much more quiet in person than you’d guess by my posting rate.
[sub]I’m very shy IRL.[/sub]
ref: username has dual meaning
This thread strikes very close to home. “One who listens well, remembers.”
I’ve been known to bring back the words of others to use in the assistance of inserting their own lower extremities into their oral orafice. Usually just after they have asked me “Why the hell don’t you ever talk?”
“Tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak, and remove all doubt”
What I dislike is the fact that when you are quiet, people assume that something is wrong. “What’s wrong?” “Why are you upset?” I’m not! I just enjoy being quiet sometimes. It’s amazing how much of the world you miss when your jaw is unhinged all the time. But apparently some people think that incessant babble about trivialities is a life requirement. Now if it’s a specific interesting topic being discussed, or if personal questions are being asked, i’ll happily pontificate all night; but otherwise, i can be perfectly happy just sitting there listening and observing people.
Another shy, quiet person checking in; I’ve received the “say something” request on numerous occasions. It actually doesn’t bother me when someone makes a comment like that, however, because I’ve been known to make similar comments myself. For me, it all has to do with how familiar and comfortable I am with someone. With someone I’ve known for a long time, I have no problems sitting in silence, but with people I’ve known for a shorter time, the silence can be uncomfortable.
Mr. Cranky is a quiet person.
The first time I took him out in a group, one of my overprotective (and drunk) well-meaning ex-boyfriends took me aside and said “What are you DOING with this guy? What does he have to offer?” I was furious. Like I have to supply transcripts of conversations to convince people he has deep thoughts? Gratifyingly, Mr. Cranky opened up once he got to know my friends better, and even drunken overprotective ex thinks the world of him now. I told ya so, you nitwit.
I have a friend who often complains, “I feel like hates me or something! He never talks!” She finds this to be a major character flaw. She never considers what it says about her self-esteem that she assumes that a person who is not talking a lot to her “hates” her.
I still get comments occasionally, someone saying something like “I would never have pictured you with someone so quiet.” Well, how about trusting my taste? Maybe he talks a lot to me when we’re alone, putz.
It irks me on his behalf.
Count me in with the quiet ones who hate being told to talk. It ranks right up there with being commanded to “Smile!”
I also am rather quiet, and part of it is shyness. I have gotten over the shyness part (mostly) but I was painfully shy as a child. I have memories of my mother poking me in the arm and telling me to talk to people more.
If I am with a group of friends, I will talk as much as the next person, but depending on the situation, I tend to shut up. At large parties, I like to people-watch. If I am in a social situation with people I don’t know (or don’t know very well), I tend to hang back and observe. What the heck is wrong with that?
::nods:: I know what you mean, Sycorax. I’m an extremely shy person (though I’ve been working on it a lot lately) and I tend not to talk very much when I’m with a group of people. When I was younger I heard these remarks often, and because I absolutely hate being the center of attention, these comments used to make me miserable.
In high school people used to ask me, sometimes in front of a large crowd, “why are you so quiet?” Then all eyes would turn to me as everyone waited for an answer. I always wanted to respond with something like “I don’t know – why are you so stupid/thoughtless/rude?”
Of course, being a shy person I would never say anything like that.
IMHO, one of the worst things you can do to shy people is comment on the fact that they’re quiet. Remarks like that always made me retreat even further from the conversation. Instead, try asking a few questions or talking to that person one-on-one for a little while. And whatever you do, don’t call attention to the fact that you got the person to talk!
Just my two cents.
I’m another quiet person. In my natural habitat, I’ve been known to go entire days without saying anything out loud.
But sometimes it really doesn’t serve you well, so I have a character that I slip into sometimes. “Job-interview guy”. He doesn’t mind chit-chat, he laughs at the most inane jokes and he goes out of his way to be percieved as friendly.
I find him incredibly annoying and phony, but it seems to put other people at ease. I’ve had to get into that character a couple of times meeting girls I talked to online first. That’s not a good sign.
While I will fall into my warm and comfortable silence as often as I can, there are times when this is not what I need. At those times, I seek the company of others. I look for conversation and noise. The additional input gives me more to mull over when quiet time again comes around.
I’ve found that others get frustrated in my presence when I give every indication that I am seeking company, conversation and input, but make no effort to contribute and make it easy. They, like me, should have and would have just stayed home if silent contemplation were the objective. It becomes difficult to keep good company without offering a reason.
I have developed this crazy idea in my head that everyone finds comfort in his or her own silence and that it is not only selfish, but inefficient for me to presume that I am the only one who wants to be quiet. The positive result of this idea is that the conversations in which I engage, sometimes with great effort, are made infinitely fuller and more complex as a cooperative endeavor. In the end, the experience of interacting with others is more fulfilling and the quiet comfort to which I return is much more satisfying.
At times, I will inquire after a companion’s silence. The selfish reason for this is that I don’t want to do all the work while my silent companion reaps the benefits of my expression. The cleaner reason is that I seek to ensure that the business going on is of benefit to the quiet and that he or she has ample opportunity to engage and offer up as much as is preferred.
Yes, I too fall into the category of Too Damn Quiet. And I wish I weren’t. If I could change one thing about myself, it would be to be better at talking to people.
Slowly but surely, I think, I am improving. I am catching on to some basic “duh” concepts–like, you don’t necessarily have to have some piece of vital information to impart in order to say something worth hearing. Or, to be a good listener, it’s not enough just to listen; you have to respond so that the person knows you’re listening.
But conversation doesn’t come nearly as naturally to me as it does to some people. Before I can say something, I have to think of something to say, and by the time I have all the words lined up in my brain and I’m ready to send them marching out of my mouth, the appropriate moment has passed.