What is ‘Quiet Shaming’ and How Is It Affecting Introverts?

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.

Potential scenarios

  • 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.


More acceptance

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’?

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Writer. Entrepreneur. Content Creator. Wife. Mother & Founder of Quietly Ambitious and all round BOLD introvert! You'll probably catch me with a cup of tea in one hand and typing with the other. Not ideal I know *slurps*

11 comments on “What is ‘Quiet Shaming’ and How Is It Affecting Introverts?

  1. krismadeablog

    Great post. I think the worst part for me in school was people thinking I was going to be one of the kids that snapped one day. The ”he’s so quiet, he must be up to something” lines get old after you hear them enough. People need to learn that not everyone has to act like the majority.

  2. That was basically my entire school life! It only stopped in university, because there we didn’t get grades on oral participation (thank God!). However, as I never managed to pretend to be extroverted, I was still confronted with this in my working life. At my old job, my boss seriously told me I should spend less time at my desk doing my work and more time talking to colleagues (while at the same time, chattier colleagues were reprimanded not to spend their whole workday away from their desk talking to others…). I always wish I had the presence of mind in those situations to explain what makes introverts so great and why they should be glad to have us. Unfortunately, despite being usually very comfortable with being an introvert, I still get so upset and self-conscious when confronted like this that I’m unable to say anything in response.

    • I can’t believe your boss said that! Very frustrating that you were corrected for doing what you were being paid to do. I completely understand how you feel about the confrontation issue. For myself, I get angry at myself afterwards because I think ‘why didn’t you just speak up!’ something I have to work on also

      • Exactly! I can see the ridiculousness of it when I look back now, but on the day I found it very upsetting! And of course, I only thought of all the things I should have replied to her once the conversation was over… Maybe it’s typical for introverts that we’re so bad at speaking up for ourselves when it counts?

      • Well yeah I agree. That’s probably why they have got away with mistreating us for so long. Hopefully they’ll see blogs like this and get the message

  3. I’ve experienced this all my life being shy and introverted, still. Most people mean well, try to draw us out a little bit more into the conversation and make us part of the group and I get it though; but unfortunately, most of the time, it creates unwanted attention. I like to unranvel my shell at my own comfortable pace. I will say though, however uncomfortable it may have been, has created some lasting friendship for me and has taught me to think on my toes a little bit more. I guess, in a way, I just kind of got used to it and see it now as a way for people to include me in a positive and productive way.

    • Yes I agree. Not everyone is malicious with it. But I think it’s just about having that choice when we want to speak and not having someone else tell us ‘you need to speak now’!
      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Lynn Ann Collins

    Yes. Ninth grade field trip. We were walking to a local McDonald’s. I brought my music along with headphones and was listening to it as the other kids talked. I was enjoying myself when the teacher yelled at me in front of my peers and called me a “social outcast.” I reddened and felt horrible! Imagine being embarrassed in front of your classmates like that!
    I mentioned this years later to my boyfriend and instead of seeing my viewpoint he berated me and accused me of being unfriendly. Smh…..

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