What exactly is ‘Quiet Shaming’? and how exactly can you shame someone for being quiet?
Well, shaming in general is the action or practice of embarrassing someone judged on a particular characteristic. For example, quiet shaming would be the act of embarrassing someone because they’re quiet.
- Being singled out in a group discussion for being too ‘quiet’
- School reports saying you need to contribute more in class because you’re too ‘quiet’
- Children at school picking on you for being quiet
Each of these scenarios could potentially make an introvert feel embarrassed or humiliated for being quiet. By singling out a person for being quiet draws unwanted attention to them. It creates an uncomfortable experience for the introvert. Although quiet shaming can be both direct and indirect the consequences felt by the introvert can be the same.
Quiet shaming can be subtle and seemingly harmless, but for a lot of introverts, the effects are long lasting
How is Quiet Shaming Affecting Introverts?
I can almost guarantee that every introvert has experienced some form of quiet shaming. Whether we realised it or not, growing up we were socialised into the extrovert standard. ‘Speaking up’ was praised and being ‘quiet’ was frowned upon. Deep rooted beliefs that ‘conversation is better than silence’ continues to dominate our society. Sometimes it’s just a gentle reminder from our teacher to ‘contribute more in class‘. Or perhaps our manager telling us ‘we need to speak up more in the office‘. These subtle comments suggest that being quiet is not ok. It tells us that our quietness is not appreciated. Although quiet shaming can be subtle and seemingly harmless, for a lot of introverts, the effects are long lasting.
Overtime, the continual reminders from friends, family, managers and teachers to ‘speak up’ becomes ingrained in our subconscious. We end up internalising these thoughts and start to act in ways that aren’t true to ourselves! We try to ‘extrovert’ the best we can, we pretend to be the life of the party, we’re first to answer a question in a group discussion. We continue to push ourself to be this person that we weren’t actually made to be. All of this so we feel like we ‘fit in’. All of this to avoid the threat of being publicly quiet shamed. Many introverts have even admitted to feeling like they had to ‘act extroverted’ to even ‘be seen’. Going through life feeling like no one notices or even values your quietness can be damaging to self esteem and confidence.
Unfortunately, most of our adolescent years were spent battling with this extrovert standard and our obsession with ‘fitting in’. The subtle acts of quiet shaming continued to shape our minds into believing that we were not normal. Our schools, workplaces and even universities are not safe spaces for introverts.
Quiet shaming causes a lot of stress and self doubt amongst introverts. You don’t have to go very far to see accounts of introverts that have experienced a lot of self doubt growing up. Even some of our contributors here at Quietly Ambitious have referred to themselves as ‘growing into’ their introversion. (You can read more about their stories here, here and here)
We all need to understand that an introvert’s preference for quietness isn’t necessarily linked to their self esteem. We need to accept that not everyone will want to talk and we also need to accept that introversion is a real thing and people shouldn’t be shamed for it!
Have you ever experienced ‘Quiet Shaming’?