I’m an extrovert – I enjoy talking to people, both strangers and friends, and I love having great conversation. It fuels me for the rest of the day.
For introverts however, talking all the time doesn’t sound like much fun. There are many factors to this: eye contact makes you uncomfortable, loud noises, etc. it’s physically exhausting to keep a conversation.
But I could learn so much from an introvert: staying quiet has its own benefits. I’ve been told to shut up more times than I can remember.
After learning about how good keeping quiet can be for yourself, it really does help sometimes to zip the lip:
Here’s a few lessons I learnt when I tried to be quiet(er).
You learn something new when you’re quiet
When you’re talking, you’re talking about something you know. When you’re listening, you might be learning something new. – Dalai Lama
When you’re quiet, all the energy you use for talking is channelled into listening instead. In that moment, you learn something new.
This gives us a chance to be out of our heads and focus on gaining valuable wisdom. For some of us with dark, lingering thoughts, that’s a very good thing.
This is where introverts thrive: you can learn something with very little effort, comfortably. You won’t have to talk, and you’re already adding to your life by listening.
For extroverts, you can give your voice a rest. Depending on what I do during the day, I could lose my voice by the time I get home. Since it’s part of my job to protect my voice, just shutting up and listening can help me rest. Someone else can fill up the conversation, you know?
Everything you say adds to your impression
When you talk, you are adding to people’s impression of you. If you talk too much for example, people’s impression of you can become negative (so noisy, what’s he saying, I don’t get it).
When we keep quiet and listen, it can be the opposite. You are seen as listening to every word they say, and that you are paying attention to them.
People love to be listened to. People like to talk about themselves because it is a topic they know, like themselves or their interests. Giving them the chance to shine is good rapport, and makes you look nice in their eyes.
It can backfire though, because if they talk too much it’ll drag on. In that case, you could cut them off by asking them to get to the point (in a nice way)!
There are those who worry about their image in a conversation. Staying quiet is nice, as long as you pair it with appropriate body language and some comments here and there.
For extroverts especially, it’s rare for you to be silent. This makes the weight of your words much more powerful: you are known to talk a lot, but to add moments of silence means that what you say could be important.
Speaking of power:
Silence adds power to your points
Giving long pauses between your most powerful sentences (ie. the points you want to make), makes you look capable/strong.
Like a parent that doesn’t say much, but when they do, the words carry a heavy weight. That, paired with the right body language (constant eye contact, proper stance, etc.), and you will be heard without saying anything.
If you’re good enough at this, you can learn how to stand your ground without giving a single word. For the very best of conversationalists, they can use silence as a tool to take charge of the conversation.
Case in point, some interviewers keep quiet after the interviewee has finished answering their question, to pressure them to answer it further. They stare as if the answer wasn’t enough, like they’re whispering keep going with their eyes.
Every part of your body communicates. Even when you’re quiet, you’re communicating. But, if you know how to use it well, you can get what you want.
Though, if you have nothing good/constructive to say, keeping quiet is a better option.
For more articles on being an introvert, read 4 Harsh Truths Which Will Make You More Sociable This Year, and Working with an Introvert: Here Are 5 Things We Wish Our Colleagues Know About Us.