By nature I am soft spoken. Whenever possible I listen first and speak afterward, if it seems appropriate. I dislike crowds because of their tendency to rowdiness and the large number of people. Of course I get loud and can grate others nerves, but these times are few and far between. For the most part I try to be respectful of boundaries to ensure I know what will help others be comfortable in whatever setting we find ourselves in.
I was a boisterous child. Like many kids I ran and yelled and made a fuss as often as I could. There is no clear divide as to when I ‘calmed down’ but in the latter years of primary school I developed a more reserved way of inhabiting the world. This quiet persona is useful in many areas of my life. When playing sport I can seem non-threatening and fade into the background. Then all of sudden I make an unexpected play, seemingly out of nowhere. In less physically demanding situations with friends, I take the time to listen. If someone is looking for a sounding board or simply to utter an ode of lament; listening is my default setting. I thrive in a quiet environment where my brain has space to think and process the problems it needs to solve. And in that quiet I am more capable of helping others do the same.
This quiet aura does not prevent me creating ripples when necessary. We need to speak up when we see injustice or false information being spread. While playing ultimate frisbee this means listening to the points of view of others before calmly explaining my own. Then, using sound knowledge of the rules, working together to get to the best outcome for that particular play. Not to benefit my team, but to benefit the game as a whole including all the players of both teams. If I raised my voice in these moments it would encourage others to do the same. The likely result would be something akin to a shouting match. No one would be listening and tension would build like a knife poised to strike.
If players are not interpreting the rules correctly, including myself, there is cause to speak up and correct this. Again, speaking calmly while allowing space for response is the best way to achieve this, rather than vociferously repeating the point we’re trying to make. We need to allow for silence, to give time for all to think and process.
In a classroom setting this is just as apparent. When I was training to be a teacher I was placed in classrooms with teachers who taught using many different styles. Some yelled to get students attention. Some built strong rapport so students knew the times to pay attention. Some loudly berated students who had seemingly misbehaved—in front of the entire class. Others engaged in quiet conversation to find out what was really going on. In all these classrooms I chose a quiet, assertive teaching style. It served me well. There were times students who were trying to disrupt the class ended up paying more attention because of the way I listened and interacted respectfully with them. One thing that helps me in a classroom is being able to choose whether or not I laugh at a particular thing. Sometimes something is too outrageous and I lose my self control for a moment, but most of the time I can acknowledge something as humorous, nod approval, and move on. If I had reacted in a louder manner in any of these classrooms I may have lost control of the situation, the students, and the lessons were all trying to learn.
Voicing my opinion and marketing myself is not something I have traditionally been good at. I will nod along and go with the flow of whatever group of people I am with. My quiet nature I think manifests in part due to my reluctance to make decisions. Over the past five years I’ve realised writing music and stories is my way of quietly processing my emotions and voicing opinion about the world around me. Many of my songs are not quiet, of course, with some actually being quite the opposite. But I have not shared them with the world, so very few people know them! Hence these songs are not making much noise. Yet. I’m working on changing this by finding a following of people who want to read what I’ve written and hear the music I play. By sharing what I’ve created, hopefully I can use my small sphere of influence to encourage sustainable, positive, change.
Are you a quiet person? How do you speak up when you see injustice?
Thank you, dear readers, for continuing on this journey with me. Together we can make the world a better place, for everyone.