Before I get into this, I must start with the fact that I am great in conversation, very sociable and easy to talk to.
Countless times I have been told to ‘speak up’. Since I was a child I was told I was too quiet, that I wasn’t joining in enough in class debates, that I should put my hand up more.
I never saw myself as shy, even though now I see that I was as a child, I just knew that nobody would hear me, and even if I started to speak, somebody would just talk over me.
I have always had trouble projecting my voice. Especially when I am unsure of what I am saying, for instance, if I am thinking about something as I am discussing it, or if I am not 100% confident in what I am saying, my voice does quieten. However, even when I am fully confident and prepared, I still get told I’m not being loud enough! I just cannot project my voice in the way some people do. Even if I’m trying, there is a difference between getting louder and projecting – I tend to do neither!
I believe you are easier to ignore when quiet. If I am being polite and waiting until someone finishes, someone gets in beforehand anyway by being louder.
And it’s not just projection or volume, there is a certain delivery of speech required as well. I have tested this! I believe there are many funny comediennes out there, but people aren’t quite willing to accept the delivery. I’m funny! Just putting that out there! I have said many hi-LAR-ious things, yet with no reaction. But if they are repeated by somebody else, people laugh and see it as that person’s input rather than mine. My boyfriend is very aware of this – one person who does listen to me, AND laugh at me…ahem, I mean, my jokes. I once told him to repeat me, so he did, and we found just how differently we were treated even amongst friends. We called them out on it, and they didn’t even realise I had said those exact words just moments before!
He speaks quite quietly, he doesn’t interrupt people, yet people will listen to him before me. I am not sure if he is just speaking more authoritatively, or if they trust in what he is saying more. I can’t work it out, but for some reason he has the ability to make people believe his input is crucial, and puts across such intelligence (which he does have, but so do I).
I may well be talking facts, but somebody louder and more invasive will come along and talk nonsense, yet get listened to more – perhaps it’s not always out of choice?
Now that I’m older, I have my boss telling me to speak up! I think instead people should try to become better listeners. I do not mumble, I speak properly, I just don’t talk over everybody. I do have a habit of talking over people at times, or butting in, which is something I am very conscious of and try not to do. But how else should I join the conversation? Will people stop and think ‘oh the quiet person hasn’t said much’? Will they ask my opinion? No, they’re busy barking their own.
Lately I’ve been wondering about this. In a world of constant noise and competition, is it better to be loud and inconsiderate of others in conversation?
It certainly seems to hold people’s attention more easily. And even though some people voice authoritative monologues about something they know nothing about, people seem to accept it. It’s like the confidence makes people think they must be right in what they are saying.
It seems mad to me, but somehow it works! I see it all over. If, like me, you seem to never be heard, but have a lot to say, I say good on you! You’ve managed to not become a raving loon in the face of loudness and stupidity. You have chosen to listen to people, and let your experiences and opinions develop as the conversation goes along. Charging over somebody’s voice does not make you right. It makes you ignorant.
I have given excellent presentations, but I did need guidance on how to deliver the content. Once I was confident in what I was saying, and knew how to answer any questions fired at me, I was fine. People seemed to hear me, but it took a lot of practice. In every day life, that’s just not practical.
I talk a lot! Some people are amazed when they realise that, as I’m ‘so quiet’. I may look at practicing being more vocal and projection, but at the same time, do I really want to become one of the people that drowned me out in the first place?
Here is a plea to those that may be guilty of this – but probably won’t recognise it as they just think they are outshining rather than covering others:
– Try to listen better. If somebody does not seem to be part of the conversation, invite them in, ask them their thoughts. This is something I am conscious of, and will always try to include anyone who doesn’t seem involved.
– Don’t just say ‘yeah’ and give up on trying to hear them. Encourage people to join in, and just apologise when you haven’t heard them for the third time. I have bad hearing at times, so I blame that. Hopefully it makes the other person feel at ease and not even more conscious of their teeny voices. They’ll see that you’re trying and will try too.
– Don’t mistake being the life and soul for being an ignorant twat 🙂 Doubt that one needs much explaining, but just in case: Your parties and conversations will have much more value if everybody feels good being around you, rather than being in awe of your massive gob!
I hope this helps, fellow little voices! And if anybody out there has some tips, I will gladly take them!