Learning to talk with your ears, and sometimes your mouth
I have never understood quiet people. I feel the need to talk 24/7, but last month I had to rest my voice for two days in a row in preparation for consecutive musical performances. That’s right, I spent two days not saying a word during school.
Now, vocal rest is usually what a doctor would recommend to someone who is overusing their singing voice and has the potential to develop nodes, or other serious conditions. However, I was simply on the verge of losing my voice temporarily, so I decided to take the precaution of staying silent. I had to suppress my distracting side comments, my eardrum bursting laugh, and I could no longer yell things randomly. I thought to myself, how can I survive without saying something stupid or witty every five seconds? How can I communicate without using my voice? Well, here’s what went down over those two interesting days.
On the first day, my friends greeted me in the morning, and I waved- everything was seemingly normal. Throughout the day they tried talking to me, and I anxiously pointed to my throat. They had fun trying to guess what my pantomime language meant. They were also very amused by the fact that the loudest person they knew couldn’t say a word. I felt like I was in a Charlie Chaplin movie.
I was quite surprised to find that my quieter friends understood what I was saying more often than my louder friends. I barely had to do anything for my quiet friends to correctly guess my thoughts, and then answer my questions or carry the conversation. Also, I realized that I was genuinely listening. Normally, I would listen for a couple minutes and then try to make them laugh with a loud joke, or diverge from the general topic. Instead, I was able to let them finish their trains of thought and I think I learned more about my quieter friends than I ever have this way. I, of course, felt the urge to vocalize, but I enjoyed hearing my friends talk more. I also realized how loud and overbearing I can be; allowing my quieter friends to really have to hold a conversation with me was a nice change.
I actually felt like somewhat of a burden was lifted off of my shoulders. I relaxed as I allowed others to carry conversation.
However, the next day, when it came to in-class discussions and debates, my vocal chords were itching to talk. I desperately tried to share my ideas without saying them, and it never got across. I just looked crazy. Normally, I never could sit back in a class discussion, completely silent, without offering my input. I was confused and aggravated as I looked around at the quieter people that usually don’t participate. How were they so calm? I thought.
I did see a couple of my quieter classmates offer some input to the discussion, but what I recognized was that the louder kids were over-participating. At some points, I saw the quieter kids prepare to say something, but were quickly overridden by a fellow classmate. I then came to another realization- the quieter kids were better at hiding their frustrations; they did want to talk. Sometimes the quieter kids are just the ones that zone out and sleep during a class discussion, but sometimes they truly wanted to share their opinions. And sometimes, they have ideas but don’t want to share them. I guess what I’m trying to get across is that quiet people have many diverse reasons as to why they don’t speak but I definitely recognized that not having the opportunity to speak was a large factor. They should be able to freely express their opinions without getting interrupted, and they should feel more comfortable sharing their opinions, meaning sometimes us loud people have to back off.
When I started talking the third day, I changed a little bit. I didn’t talk unless I had to, or if I had something funny to say. (Well, I think my comments are funny, no one else does). But the important thing is that I reigned it in. Communication is a gift that loud people sometimes take for granted, and quieter people are often overlooked because they aren’t as boisterous. At the same time, louder people drown out other conversation, while quieter people have more opportunity to listen and analyze, making them less impulsive.
What I’m saying is that you can be quiet or loud (like me), but you should be aware of when you dominate a conversation, or when you don’t participate in a conversation at all. Try to offer input, but don’t offer every single thing that comes to your mind. Respecting others is important to remember when communicating. Respect that it is harder for quieter people to offer up ideas, and allow them to feel comfortable enough to do so. But I am not writing this story to tell people to stop being quiet, or to stop being loud; those are traits that make you, you. I’m just saying to find a middle ground in discussions. Everyone deserves to be heard.