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!)
How to Double Your Social Confidence in 5 Minutes"
Check out this free training offered by the experts at Social Self!
- How to use "Conversational Threading" to avoid awkward silence
- The proven way to get past boring small talk
- Instantly beat self-consciousness with the "OFC-method"
- Busting the myth that you have to get a "more interesting life" to be more interesting"
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
- 6 Myths about Quiet People
- How to Be Funny (Even if You Have Social Anxiety)
- How to End a Conversation (in 6 Easy Steps)
WANT TO REMEMBER THIS? SAVE WHAT TO SAY WHEN ASKED WHY ARE YOU SO QUIET TO YOUR FAVORITE PINTEREST BOARD!
What to Say When Asked, “Why Are You So Quiet?”
Here are some of my favorite social anxiety tools
Thanks for reading! I hope you found some helpful tips. Since this site is about social anxiety, I wanted to also share some tools I use that I hope you’ll find helpful. Some of these are affiliate links, so if you decide to try them, I’ll earn a commission. However, I only recommend things I have used myself and would recommend to a friend or family member.
Online Therapy: For online therapy, I have personally used and like the service offered by Betterhelp. It's easy to get started from the comfort of your home. You'll even get a discount on your first month of therapy when you use my link.
Doctor Visits: For doctor visits, Web Doctors offers convenient online appointments.
Audible Subscription: I recommend a lot of self-help books on this site, but I actually prefer an audiobook subscription over print books! My favorite subscription service is Audible because it has all the best-sellers and they stay in your digital library forever (even if you end your subscription). You can sign up for a free trial and listen to your first two books for free.
Social Anxiety Masterclass: The Social Anxiety Masterclass is my signature course where I walk you through everything I know about how to manage social anxiety. If you're not ready to enroll in the course, be sure to subscribe to my email newsletter to hear about special deals!
I love this. I have been asked this question constantly throughout my lifetime, and even now at 24 years old. I am someone who hates talking around groups of people. I definitely rather one-on-one conversations, and I hate talking to someone when I have no interest in doing so. I will definitely use some of your suggestions!
Arlin Cuncic says
Glad you liked it! I’m the same, I’d rather talk one-on-one.
This is helpful, on the other hand, I would be too scared to say anything. I usually just stare at the person and blink. I still like the ideas, although I would be too scared to say anything
I totally understand what you mean! It really is a terrible question that puts the other person on the spot, so you shouldn’t feel bad about not being able to say anything.