Be a Quiet Person

Note — This article is intended for people in general. Extroverted people will find more tailored advice here.

Do your friends and family call you "loud", "annoying", or "a chatterbox"? Do you talk so much that you don't listen to other people's ideas and feelings? If so, and if this is a problem area in your life, may we suggest becoming a quieter person? Being quieter can help you dramatically improve your relationships when you start being more considerate of other people. Your friends and family will feel more valued, and won't look at you and think "will you shut up?"

Start by consciously choosing situations to be quieter in and then let it become a natural part of your personality. However, as with any personality change, be gradual. If you suddenly transition from a loud and boisterous person to a quiet and introverted person, people will wonder if something is wrong with you. Tell them that you are working on being quieter and let them watch and appreciate the positive changes.

If you honestly feel this is the right path for you, please read on.


Having a Quiet Demeanor

  1. Act more cautiously. Quiet people tend to be less impulsive, and they consider decisions from multiple angles before acting. They move with a deliberate strength and don't jump into situations easily. They generally stay on the edges of things, always thinking about their next step.[1] Before you act, be sure to take a moment to truly consider what's about to happen.
    • Quiet people tend to stay on the outskirts of groups. If everyone else heads to the window to see what that screeching noise was, the quiet person takes a moment to consider whether they really care and then maybe saunters over. They, in general, seek less stimuli than their louder counterparts.
  2. Keep your body language approachable and gentle. Quiet people are easier to approach than people who are loud and aggressive. They generally keep unassuming body language and neutral expressions on their face, instead of being wrapped up in some drama that is currently unfolding. Because of this, quiet people are often believed to be nicer than louder, more aggressive individuals, whether or not that's the case.
    • To stay open and approachable, keep your head up, looking around, surveying your surroundings. Keep a casual, comfortable stance like you would if you were sitting in an empty waiting room. Take a moment to see things you wouldn't otherwise notice if you were busy chitchatting with whoever is next to you.
  3. Be calm and patient. When you're with a quiet person, that person can have a calming effect on the situation and can help others to settle down and think more clearly. Be Quietly Confident When everyone is freaking out, you can be the voice of reason. When you do speak up, it happens so rarely that people automatically take notice.
    • This can actually give you a lot of power and turn you into a quiet, effective leader. When you're the one that's calm, cool, and collected and the one speaking tersely and effectively, people will be drawn to follow your lead.
  4. Earn others' trust by being to the point and reliable. Quiet people often work well in situations that require other people to trust them. Brash and loud people sometimes appear to be ill-tempered, self-centered, and a little all over the place. Take your new persona and let it work for you. You may be the person everyone turns to in no time.
    • This new found focus of yours should make it easier to be more reliable. You'll be less distracted by all the socializing you have going on around you and can fulfill your commitments. Keep this up, especially if it was a bad habit of yours in the past.
  5. Know yourself — and do the opposite. If you consider yourself loud and brash (and if you’re actually loud and brash), take a look at your impulses. When you’re sitting at dinner with your family, think about what you’re compelled to do, how you’re compelled to act, and what you’re compelled to say. Then, start by picking one thing and doing the opposite. Do you want to launch into a conversation about mashed potatoes? Resist. Pick your battles.
    • Of course, start doing this slowly. Don't go from talkative to taciturn, from a motormouth to a mime. Pick a couple times a day to be more introspective and reserved when you feel the urge to be talkative. Over time it'll become easier and more natural.

Being Quieter in Conversation

  1. Have a point when you speak. Quiet people tend to stay in the background until they’ve practically disappeared, and then come onto the scene with a vengeance. Everyone’s chitchatting mindlessly — until the quiet person points out the building is on fire. So before you join in, make sure there’s a point to what you’re saying.
    • If you're involved in a conversation, tell yourself that three other people (or some other number) have to speak before it's your turn again. This will help you decide what you really want to say and what are really just needless interjections.
  2. Let the other person dominate the conversation. Try to subtly and politely divert attention from yourself, and keep the conversation centered on the other person. If you don’t agree with their viewpoint, make sure they clarify. Take into account who they are when they’re speaking to you and how that affects the way they think. When you’ve gathered all this information, you’ll know just what to say when you need to say it.
    • This will help you become a better listener. You'll actively be focusing on the other person and how to keep the conversation central to them. You'll likely be surprised how much you end up learning, too.
    • Try not to be too quiet when you're meeting a new person. The person may assume that you are strange or that you are not worth talking to. Instead, find a balance between listening to the other people around you and asking considerate questions.
    • Don't speak unnecessarily. Think before you speak. Pause when agitated or excited. Be mindful of interrupting another person.
  3. Observe the body language of the person you’re talking to. Take the time to hear the meaning behind their words instead of just jumping in with your own opinions or comments. How does this person actually feel? How are they likely to react? What information are you noticing that you didn’t before?
    • It's not that talkative people don't or can't do this, it's just much easier when you can use your brain power on observation and not on observation and forming words. Think back to your louder self — what do you see or notice about the world now that you didn't take the time to pay attention to before?
  4. Stop interrupting people. When you interrupt someone, you demonstrate a complete lack of respect for their thoughts and feelings. Let them finish before you start on what you think. If you’re not sure if you interrupted or not, just say, “I’m sorry. Did I interrupt? Go on.” This will make them feel more appreciated, too.
    • Take a second to consider how much you've spoken in this conversation and how much the other person has. If it's been a while since you've really chimed in with something, go ahead. No conversation is fulfilling if the other person is practically mute. But the door swings both ways — if you've been talking for a while, let the other person grab the reins. Just make sure each person gets to finish their thought before you switch gears.
  5. Ask questions that focus on the other person. People love talking about themselves, and if you allow them time to do it, they’ll love you for it, too. Being quiet doesn't mean not talking — it means using words succinctly, asking interesting questions, and making solid points worth talking about. So don't tell yourself to shut up; just tell yourself to ask the right questions.
    • Let’s say an acquaintance of yours went skydiving. Instead of saying, “Oh, I went skydiving once; it was awesome!” you say, “That’s great! How was it? Was it your first time?” If they’re truly invested in the conversation, they’ll probably ask you if you’ve ever done it, too.
  6. Lower your volume. Soften your delivery and talk quieter, but loud enough to be heard. Quiet people tend to be gentler in socializing, even when they do speak up. Fewer things rile them up and they learn to show their amazement or awe through their face and other vocal mechanisms (gasping, exclaiming to themselves, etc.).
    • There is a fine, fine line to this, however. People that don't talk loud enough can get very annoying. It's easy for others to get frustrated with you if they can't hear you. So make sure that in lowering your volume, you're just using your inside voice, not your whispering voice.
  7. Learn to command respect through using fewer words. People who consider their words carefully before they speak tend to speak more wisely. Their ways will earn them the respect of others and will make them appear more competent. Speak up when you feel a point needs to be addressed, but don't feel the urge to fill awkward silences.
    • When you reserve your words for things you actually need to say, they have more effect. Keep your words to the point to maintain your quiet demeanor and to make your words more important and meaningful.
    • Eye contact is huge when your words are minimal. If you don’t make eye contact, you’ll come off as insecure, shy, and unsure of yourself. If you make eye contact but don’t speak, you’re a reserved, deep thinker.
  8. Rely on your face to express yourself. When you just have to spit out that comment and you’re dying keeping it in, let your face express how you’re feeling. An eye roll or a giggle to yourself can do wonders and it gets people noticing the littler things about you. Have you ever caught a quiet friend of yours judging something with their face? It's often quite funny — they've developed a sense of humor without saying a word. Take a leaf out of their book and use your face as a substitute for your words if and when need be.
    • Of course, do this carefully. It's easily to offend people even if you don't say anything. An eye roll to a particularly sensitive friend could launch them into a tizzy if you're not careful. Know your audience and know when these moments are appropriate.
  9. Take a moment to open your mind. Do not assume that someone with a different position or opinion is therefore wrong, stupid, or malicious. Learn why they believe that way, and where it comes from. This will help you see both sides of the coin and formulate a thought-out opinion. It'll provoke you to ask questions and to step back and think about the conversation you're having.
    • This does not imply that quieter people are more understanding. It's just that when you're listening, it's easier to take in the other person's argument and to let them explain it fully. So when the person next to you launches into a tirade of something you don't approve of, don't jump on them ready for the attack. Listen to them. And then you can show them what's what.
    • Avoid being quiet just to make other people angry. Being quiet to avoid confrontation is not helpful; it's cowardly. Make your points during an argument, but make them in a reasonable way without using a loud voice.
    • Don't be impolite or unnecessarily curt — speak politely, but only when spoken to, and answer intelligently and not in an overly forward "yes/no" manner. Quiet is the goal, not impolite or snobby. Concise is the goal, not laconic or brusque.

Leading a Quiet Life

  1. Meditate to help quiet your mind for at least a few minutes every day. Not only will meditation get you a clearer, more thoughtful, tuned-in mind, but it can help lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, too. [2] Just 10-15 minutes each day can leave you feeling zoned and zenned for the next 24 hours.
    • If you're not the meditating type, other activities can substitute for this feeling. Take a walk in your favorite local park, or just sit on a bench and read. Grab a journal and spend some time writing down your thoughts. Anything that's a bit of "me-time" will do the trick.
    • Do people playfully tease you and tell you to take a hike? Perhaps you should tease them back and actually do it.
    • Live in the moment by practicing such techniques as mindfulness and Zen driving. Contemplating the mysteries of science (the universe, quantum theory) can also be an intensely introspective experience.
  2. Keep a journal. One way to shift focus (and be more observant, as mentioned above) is by keeping a journal. Commit to a daily writing practice and ask yourself questions like:
    • What did I feel? Why?
    • What did I learn today? Who did I learn from?
    • What ideas arrived? Who or what did I think about today?
    • How was today different than yesterday? Than last week? Than last year?
    • What can I be grateful for? Be Kind to Someone Lonely Why?
  3. Be Self-Reliant While there's no shame in asking for help, your Be Quietly Confident confidence will give you the strength to do it yourself, which in turn will make you more valuable to others. And when you do need to ask for help, your introspective nature will enable you to focus and to ask the right questions.
  4. Find a hobby. When you can spend time alone with yourself doing quiet, thoughtful things, it’ll be easier to do the same in larger groups. And you’ll probably be surprised how much you enjoy it as well. You'll cultivate patience and nurture your inner world, as well as provide yourself with more conversation material when it's time to socialize. Try knitting, zen gardening or some other activity that doesn't require extraneous talking. Even just picking up a good book is a start.
    • In her book What Do I Say Next?, Mingling Maven Susan RoAne writes, "Still waters run deep ... but they can also be shallow." If you're shallow, people will be glad you're shutting up, and you don't want that. You want to improve yourself and become someone that other people want to be around, even if you're not chatty.
    • Also remember that quiet people can also do things loud people do. You can try singing, dancing, playing an instrument, etc. Remember to transition back to a quiet person when you're done.
    • However, when your free time is spent being quiet, it'll be harder to make the transition into being louder in other situations, as quietude often sets the mood for your social interactions later. Imagine spending all day reading your favorite book, Appreciate Novels, and then going to a party. You'll probably still be off in book world, feeling naturally quieter and more introverted.
  5. Spend more time alone. Author Susan Cain says that "quiet is a catalyst for innovation."[3] Being alone with your thoughts can be some of the most rewarding, productive time spent in your day. And you get to do exactly what you want to do. This will not only be quality time doing whatever you want, but you'll learn to be with just yourself and like it, too.
  6. Spend time with more introverted friends. Surrounding yourself with bustling, gregarious, bubbly people will only make you more bustling, gregarious, and bubbly. To learn to appreciate friends on a lower key and sometimes even in silence, spend time with more introverted, naturally quieter people. You’ll find that it’s a completely new and different kind of fun.
    • Quiet people often tend to hang out with quiet people, though this is not always the case. If you don't know that many quiet people, ask your quietest friend and Befriend a Shy Introvert. Having a friend's support is often helpful, especially if they're already the quiet type (or trying to be). Alternatively, join more notoriously quiet activities — try a book club or a cooking class to meet quieter individuals.
  7. Consider seeing a therapist. Not only will this give you that much-needed time to talk about yourself, but you can also talk about why you feel you need to be quieter, and whether you demand other people's attention. Therapists aren't only for people who have mental disorders, but also for people who want to get in touch with themselves.
    • If someone is making you feel like you’re too loud, you can talk about that, too. You’re probably just fine as you are, unless you feel it’s a problem. Being comfortable in your natural personality is very important.
  8. Stay true to you. At the end of the day, some people are just naturally louder than others. You don’t have to be quieter — you’re probably just fine as you are. However, if you do feel compelled to change, only make changes that feel okay and genuine. If you want to speak up, do it. If you want to dance in the cafeteria, do it. All of us are dynamic individuals with more than one side to us. Maybe you just have a quiet side that comes out once in a while.
    • If you genuinely do feel the need to be quieter, choose times when you feel this is the most important. At dinner with family? During class? Don't aim to be a quiet person; aim to be quieter in the right circumstances. There may be times when being loud is called for.
  9. If you're ready to take the plunge, take a "vow of silence" for a short period of time. Maybe you can be completely silent for an hour. Then try three hours. If you can make it to a whole day, you might find yourself observing more around you that you never noticed before because you were too busy talking.
    • A good time to begin such a "vow of silence" is after a procedure that causes pain in the mouth or head, such as braces adjustments, root canals, or even a minor bonk on the head. Don't hurt yourself, of course, but do look for inspiration to become a quiet person.

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