How to Respond to Why Are You So Quiet
I used to get asked this question a lot when I was younger: “Why are you so quiet?” So I know how irritating of a question it can be.
However, I’d like to suggest that you rise above your irritation when faced with this question. From my perspective, I don’t think anyone ever meant any harm when they asked me this. They probably didn’t realize how annoying of a question it was.
I don’t really get asked it anymore. But it always helps to have some answers ready, because it’s just not an easy question to answer. I’d like to propose that you choose one of the following five ways of responding.
If you have an honest answer to the question “Why are you so quiet?”, and you sense that the person is genuinely curious, it doesn’t hurt to just be straight. Unfortunately, I found it to be rare that this question was asked in a one-on-one conversation. Rather, it was usually putting you on the spot in front of a group.
What would an honest answer be? Something like, “I’m just not a big talker,” “I prefer to listen,” “I’m just getting to know the group,” or “I prefer one-on-one conversations.”
I know as a younger person, typically this question came from someone older which always makes you feel defensive and put on the spot. And if you do have social anxiety, that’s probably not something you want to disclose to everyone.
I do wish people who asked this question realized that they are rarely going to get an honest answer. It’s just not a good question, to begin with.
Answer with a Comeback
So someone’s asked “Why are you so quiet?” and you feel irritated and defensive. Is it ever okay to retort with a comeback? To answer with a snide remark?
My general answer would be no. It’s always better to rise above. And… you don’t know that the person asking has any clue that the question is irritating (ok, they might have a clue).
But.. if you just can’t resist, I’ve come up with some handy retorts:
“Why are you so loud?”
“I’m plotting my escape.”
“I don’t like to talk over the voices in my head.”
Some variation on a ridiculous reply will probably shut the person down if that is what you are really after.
(The video below really gets to the heart of this matter. Worth watching!)
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Ignore the Question
This tended to be my reaction when asked “Why are you so quiet?” A simple shoulder shrug and no reply. This shows that you don’t think the question is really all that helpful and you don’t have a good answer.
Most people should move on at that point, and if they don’t, then you’re clearly dealing with someone who doesn’t have a lot of empathy.
Answer with a Question
One way to deflect the “Why are you so quiet?” question is to do the ignore trick with the shoulder shrug, and then make an unrelated statement or ask an unrelated question.
For example, shoulder shrug… “What were you just saying about X…”
This puts the focus back on the person who just put the focus on you. Again, this gets easier to do as you get older.
Leave Them Wondering
Although I don’t get asked this question anymore, I think I know what my reply would be at this point:
“I’m not.” And then smile.
If the person really wants to know what that means or wants to know more about you, they should try to strike up a one-on-one conversation. If they just wanted to put you on the spot or make you feel uncomfortable, then you’ve risen above that.
I have to say that I’ve yet to figure out why people ask this question. It’s certainly not something I would ever ask anyone in private, let alone in front of a group of people.
To the people out there asking that question, I’d love to know: What’s the reasoning behind it? There are much better ways to get to know someone.
So to recap… if you’re caught off guard by this question you can 1) be honest, 2) use a comeback, 3) ignore it, 4) ask a question in return, or 5) be mysterious. What’s your modus operandi? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.
Related Posts about Being Quiet
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What to Say When Asked, “Why Are You So Quiet?”
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