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"Why Are You So Quiet?": Stop Asking This Question

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Lisha was an introvert, is an introvert, and will always be an introvert.

Some people like to talk less and listen more.

Some people like to talk less and listen more.

I recently came across quite a few articles written to help quiet people respond to the question, "Why are you so quiet?" However, I think that the focus shouldn't be on how to answer this question—it should be on getting people to stop asking it.

It's Who I Am

We all know that no two people are exactly alike. So, it should be pretty obvious why some people prefer to talk less than others. Everyone has a unique personality, and their behaviour often varies according to a particular situation. The reason why some people are quiet is the same as why others are talkative—it's just who they are. Simply put:

  • If you ask a quiet person, "Why are you so quiet?", a direct response would be: "It's who I am and how I feel comfortable."
  • If you ask a talkative person, "Why do you talk so much?", a direct response would be: "It's who I am and how I feel comfortable."

This should probably be the end of the article because, well—it isn't exactly rocket science. However, seeing as I can't even count the number of times that I have been asked this question, I feel the need to elaborate a bit more.

Why People Need to Stop Asking This Question

If anyone was asked this question just once in their lifetime, I'm sure they would not have cared—it probably would not even have registered. But when you hear this repeatedly throughout all stages of your life, it definitely gets frustrating—especially when it is often from people whom you hardly even know.

Here is why people need to stop asking this question:

  1. It's a Rude Question
  2. It's Rarely Seen as Showing Concern
  3. It Can Be More Than Just Annoying
  4. It Won't Get a Satisfactory Response
  5. It's Better to Appreciate Their Listening Skills

1. It's a Rude Question

If a quiet person responds to the question by saying something along the lines of "It's who I am", it's seen as them being rude. However, the funny thing is that no one(except those at the receiving end) ever considers the question rude—even though it most certainly is.

It's also often asked in a loud voice which gets the attention of everyone around. Just imagine—this person doesn't like to talk much, especially in large groups, and now they're being asked to answer to a large group about why they don't like to talk!

2. It's Rarely Seen as Showing Concern

Some people might think that it is only a way to show their concern. But, if someone doesn't talk much, it doesn't necessarily mean that something is wrong.

The question is especially frustrating when it comes from an acquaintance who is familiar with a fellow introvert's behaviour and preferences—it then comes across as finding fault instead of showing concern. However, if you do accept their quietness but just wish to understand them better, you could ask this as part of a deep, preferably one-on-one conversation.

Of course, I'm talking about introverts who have always been quiet because they prefer being this way. If your usually outgoing friend is sitting silently in a corner, you should definitely check to see if they're okay.

3. It Can Be More Than Just Annoying

No one should be made to feel inferior just because they don't feel comfortable conversing in certain situations or with certain people. Adults can eventually learn to shrug it off, but it can affect the way children see themselves.

I speak from personal experience when I say that by hearing this question repeatedly from innumerable people, I was forced to think that it was wrong for me to be quiet. Unfortunately, children are still made to feel this way. The only difference is that young introverts now have online access to detailed information about introversion. With this, they can comfort themselves by knowing that they are not alone. That is definitely an improvement, but, why should anyone have to worry about such matters for even a minute.

4. It Won't Get a Satisfactory Response

If you are genuinely curious about why people are quiet, you can broaden your knowledge by looking it up online. There are unlimited articles and books available that explain almost every detail about introverts and their behaviour.

There's no need to put anyone on the spot or make them feel awkward. Even if someone has heard this question a thousand times, they still might not have a response to it. Those who are fed up of hearing this will ignore it, respond rudely or proceed to walk away. Others might not wish to be rude and will usually end up shrugging it off or changing the topic. However, the common result is always exasperation—and no one needs another reason for this.

When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.

— Dalai Lama

5. It's Better to Appreciate Their Listening Skills

A better alternative to "Why are you so quiet?" would be something like "You're such a good listener!" That will get a positive response or even an explanation about why they love to observe and listen attentively.

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You could also ask about their interests if you want to get them talking. That could be the start of an enjoyable conversation as they will feel that they can open up.

Whatever their response is, it will definitely be better than being met with blank stares and awkward shrugs.

Accept others for who they are.

Accept others for who they are.

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid

It may seem like a trivial matter, but only the quiet ones will understand the frustration that comes with being asked this dreaded question.

However, if those who are affected don't explain themselves, others cannot be expected to understand. Explanations can even be given by sharing writings, or through any other art form. It's always important to share one's thoughts so that everyone can realize why certain things are better left unsaid.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Lisha C


Lisha C (author) on August 17, 2020:

EK Jadoon - You bring up a valid point. If someone keeps talking continuously without bothering to acknowledge others' opinions, there's not much point in attempting to talk. One would not even be interested in listening then.

Thank you for reading and your comments.

Lisha C (author) on August 17, 2020:

Yes, being a good listener is beneficial--but, for this, we also need someone to listen to! Those who are talkative should just accept that there's nothing wrong in being quiet, too.

Thanks for reading, Jeremiah.

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on August 17, 2020:

Lisha, thank you for sharing your thoughts. You raise some good points. We must listen but only when we are mentally connected with the speaker. I am surrounded by the people who are talkative, and they don't have the courage to accept the ideology of other people. So, I prefer to keep quiet not for the reason that I am an introvert. I keep quiet so that the atmosphere stays calm.

JEREMIAH MWANIKI KILUNDA from Nairobi on August 17, 2020:

We ought to be good listeners than noise makers.

Lisha C (author) on August 16, 2020:

Glad to know that people stop asking it as one gets older! I feel the same way, Linda--communicating by writing is so much easier. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Lisha C (author) on August 16, 2020:

Thanks for your comment, Liz. Yes, we all need to listen and observe in order to understand others better.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on August 15, 2020:

This is an interesting article that I can certainly relate to. I used to get asked the question a lot when I was younger. People are usually too polite to do it now. It is "who I am." I don't have problems in communicating with others by writing or when I'm teaching, but in other situations I'm an introvert.

Liz Westwood from UK on August 15, 2020:

This article makes a very valid point. Listening can be much more useful than talking.

Lisha C (author) on August 15, 2020:

Yes, maybe, Danny. Or they could also ask nicer questions that no one would have a problem with :) Thank you for reading and commenting.

Lisha C (author) on August 15, 2020:

I hope so, Sp Greaney! Quiet people just need to be shown more patience as they might not open up immediately. And there's not much point in asking such questions—it usually comes across as finding fault with them.

Danny from India on August 15, 2020:

Yes at times it can be annoying. People should judge the mood before asking. Here we need behavioral analysis.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on August 15, 2020:

Good article. Maybe people will refrain from asking this in the future once they read this. Some people are just annoying and nosy. The people who are quite are usually a lot more interesting to be around anyway.

Lisha C (author) on August 15, 2020:

It is, Pamela. It's been several years of hearing it and I am still often unable to give an adequate response! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Lisha C (author) on August 15, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Eric. Yes, it must be very relaxing. But it must have been quite hard for her to adjust to the quietness!

Lisha C (author) on August 15, 2020:

Thanks for your comment, Ankita. Yes, it is annoying—especially if you've been hearing it since you were a child.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 15, 2020:

I think you make several good points in this article. It would surely be annoying to be asked why you are so quiet several time, Lisha.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 15, 2020:

Really cool. This is quite well done. My wife is only quiet around me. She does not need to speak. Very relaxing after 10 years trying to figure it out.

Ankita B on August 15, 2020:

Great article. I like the points you have put and also you have described them superbly. I too get asked this question many times and it really gets annoying.

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