“Don’t judge me because I’m quiet. No one plans a murder out loud.” Amy Efaw, author.
This dark joke says a lot about the stereotype of quiet people.
There’s a common misconception that “It’s always the quiet ones that are most dangerous.”
But is it true?
Are quiet people dangerous?
Should you stay away from them?
And if there’s a quiet person in your midst, should you avoid them at all costs?
In this article, we’ll discuss why this negative connotation exists, and how to handle a quiet person.
Are Quiet People Really Dangerous?
Here’s a common scenario: You attend class and meet friendly and talkative people. You get along and everything’s great.
But then you suddenly notice one person who hardly ever speaks in class. He sits at the back and doesn’t really talk much, or you’ve never even heard him speak.
Should you avoid him? Do you immediately think they should be avoided?
For most people, the answer is yes. Quiet people seem to be creepy, mysterious, socially awkward, lack intelligence, and anti-social.
In this society, there’s so much negativity associated with being quiet. This is because society values extroversion – talkative, confident, proud, and friendly.
When a person doesn’t talk much, people usually think they’re weird, different, and aloof.
Society doesn’t value people who talk less, probably because when a person doesn’t talk much, there’s not a lot of information you can get about that person.
And in human nature, the less you know about something, the more uncomfortable you are, and that can make you scared. What you don’t understand, you fear.
This is probably one of the reasons why most people believe quiet people are dangerous.
Well, of course, there have been actual dangerous people throughout history that have caused horrendous crimes and were described by neighbors as being shy, quiet, and withdrawn. However, this stereotype hurts quiet people who are smart, kind, and creative.
Let’s also not forget that there are also talkative people who have executed some of the worst crimes in history, so being quiet or talkative are not the only indications of a person’s predictability of being dangerous.
In fact, some of the world’s most famous personalities and history makers were characterized as being quiet.
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was known for being a fantastic storyteller, but when not expressing his narratives, was characterized by his peers as a “quiet man.”
Audrey Hepburn, Hollywood star and fashion icon of the 50s, was known to be an “introvert and elusive.”
Other famous personalities throughout history who were characterized as being quiet include Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Steven Speilberg, and George Orwell.
How to Handle a Quiet Person
We’ve discussed that being quiet doesn’t necessarily mean a person is dangerous, so how do you behave around someone quiet?
If you have a classmate in school, a coworker, a family member, or a significant other who’s quieter than the average, how do you handle that person?
Before we discuss how best to handle a quiet person, let’s first discuss what it means to be a quiet person.
Most often than not, quietness is used interchangeably with shyness. Of course, a shy person will not speak much, so it’s normal to think they’re the same thing. But they’re actually not.
Shyness is based on social anxiety. A person will not actively engage in social interactions because there is a fear of being judged, so they withdraw when other people are around.
Quietness, on the other hand, is not based on fear, but it’s simply a preference not to speak as much.
A shy person may be quiet but a quiet person is not always shy.
Sometimes, a quiet person is very friendly and confident but chooses not to talk a lot.
It’s important to understand the difference because you can use this knowledge to determine how to handle a person who is not talking much.
If you figure out that a person is quiet but not shy, then it’s easier to interact with this person, compared to interacting with a shy person, who may be socially anxious.
When you meet a quiet person, don’t give up right away. They may not respond to you immediately, but once they feel comfortable around you, they may begin to open up.
Quiet people are often introspective, which means they think a lot. They observe more than they talk, and they listen more than they speak.
The next time you meet a quiet person, try asking them a question.
It could be about a subject in school or about work, or even about current events. Since they actively listen, they’ll respond to your question in meaningful ways.
They hardly speak without much thought before opening their mouth, so once they do, you know you’ll get a significant answer from them.
If they stop talking once they answer your question, follow it up with another question. But make sure your questions are meaningful as well. Quiet people are great observers so they know if someone is being authentic or not.
If you want to know more about a quiet person, you must genuinely be interested in what they have to say.
Once a quiet person feels that you’re interested in knowing about their thoughts, they’ll be comfortable enough to talk to you more.
Benefits of Being a Quiet Person
If you’re a quiet person or you know someone who doesn’t talk as much, you need to understand that there are many benefits to being quiet.
If you’re a quiet person who’s always felt bad about not being so talkative, or you feel as if you’re being sidelined because of your silence, then don’t worry.
There are many benefits of being a quiet person, and these are:
a) Self Awareness
Quiet people think a lot, observe well, and are often busy with their thoughts.
They are self-aware and know their strengths and weaknesses.
When you apply for a job, you know which positions you’re good or bad at, and can potentially get a career in a field you’re confident in.
With self-awareness, you can avoid situations where you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, and welcome opportunities you know you’ll excel in.
b) Enhanced Creativity
Quiet people observe and think more, therefore, they absorb more ideas and information.
Creativity takes time, and it’s not just in art or music.
You can be creative in every field, be it agriculture, education, law, politics, and others.
By thinking more and talking less, you get to develop and improve ideas better.
c) Stronger Brain Cells
According to an article in AARP Magazine, being quiet is good for brain health.
Quiet reflection seems to show benefits on your brain cells, which can help delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases later in life.
Quiet people are not dangerous, in the same way, that loud people are not dangerous.
Talking less is not indicative of a dangerous personality and in fact, it may even be an indication of the opposite: most quiet people are actually kind and smart.
The negative connotations associated with quietness in a person have long been known and this actually hurts people.
Just because someone is private, keeps his thoughts to himself, and would rather listen more than talk, doesn’t mean you should brand him as dangerous.
Try getting to know the person and show a genuine interest in them. You never know, you might discover a friend or a kind person behind your prejudice.