Often we pay the most attention to those with the loudest voices and the most to say. In doing this, we underestimate the power of the quiet one.
At any gathering of people, be it a party or a business meeting, there will be those who talk loudly and demand attention. These extroverts have lots of great ideas, are socially adept, and draw others to them like moths to a flame. At that same party or business meeting, there will often be a quiet one. This person says little but listens a lot. If you watch carefully, you may see that he or she is taking everything in. When they finally speak, the rest of the group is often astonished by the power of their ideas or the insights the quiet one shares.
There is nothing wrong with either of these types of people. We need both the outgoing extroverts and the quieter, more introverted people to make society work.
The problem is, that in our current society, we pay the most attention to those who make the most noise. And this is a mistake. By doing this, we miss out on the amazing ideas and insights of the quiet one in the room.
Ways quiet people are often misunderstood
It is often assumed that quiet people have little to say, or that they are socially awkward. People may assume they don’t have any insights or ideas. Some people may even decide they lack intelligence. People may also assume that quiet people are weak, submissive, and passive. None of these things are true.
In fact, quiet people are often strong, creative, intuitive, and brilliant. We shouldn't assume that just because they are quiet they will put up with bad behavior either. Quiet people watch and listen and when they have all the information they need, they act. So watch out that you don’t upset the quiet one – you could be in for a shock.
This hilarious quote from Amy Efaw sums it up:
1. The quietest folk listen a lot and may know more than other people suspect.
The reason quiet people are quiet is that they are listening. Unfortunately, some louder people spend so much time talking they have little time for listening or thinking. Quiet people don’t make this mistake. They listen carefully and think deeply so you can be sure that when they finally do speak, they have something amazing to say.
Louder people should never assume that a quiet person has less knowledge or intelligence than them. If they do, they may well end up looking stupid.
2. Quiet people observe and pick up on more than others
It’s very hard to fool a quiet person. They listen and watch everything that goes on carefully. While louder types may amaze others with their eloquence and enthusiasm, the quiet one in the room will notice when those words have little depth and are full of bluster or badly thought through ideas.
They also pick up on much more than the words that are spoken. Quiet people focus on behavior and body language too. This means they easily spot inauthentic behaviors and outright lies and deceptions.
Be afraid of the quiet ones; they are the ones who actually think.
3. Quietness does not equate with weakness – so don’t mess with them
Quiet people will speak out against any wrongdoing or unfairness. They are quick to point out bad behavior. Quiet folk is often slow to defend themselves, but once they are pushed too far, they can react with astonishing power. They are also quick to support more vulnerable members of the group. Quiet people have high moral standards and a strong backbone so it’s best to keep on their good side.
4. Even the quietest of people have excellent social skills
Quiet people do not lack social skills. They just use a different set of skills than extroverts. In their own unobtrusive way, they develop close relationships built on trust and mutual respect. And when they are with those whose company they enjoy, they can be the life and soul of the party.
5. Quiet people can be just as determined and loyal as louder folk
Extroverts who think quiet people have little to offer should beware. While others are networking and proclaiming their ideas, quiet people are creating bonds of trust with others. They are also determinedly working on brilliant ideas of their own that, when revealed, will stun everyone else into silence.
6. Quiet people will not tolerate being treated badly
Even the nicest people have their limits.
Some extroverts assume that they can easily take advantage of quiet people. This isn’t true. Quiet people have a well-developed sense of their own value. If anyone tries to fob them off with the boring and less prestigious jobs they will rebel. It isn’t wise to do this anyway as quiet people’s insights can be extremely useful to the group or team.
To sum up, always pay attention to the quiet ones. Though their mouths are often closed, their minds are wide open.