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Thread: Quiet People in the Workplace -- Do Others Dislike Them?

  1. #1
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    Quiet People in the Workplace -- Do Others Dislike Them?

    I started a new job a few days ago. My job requires me to be very focused, and so I must do anything I can to tune out noise. Apparently, this has led to my not being the most talkative person in the office.

    What I'm wondering is -- why can't some people help but point it out and make a joke out of it? I've had two higher level managers poke fun at me by saying something to the effect of "hey stop talking so much, you're going to talk my ear off, etc."

    Worst of all, following a brief presentation today, a girl who I don't even work with directly said I need to "start talking more." I felt it was so awkward and uncalled for - especially because she seemed she wanted to say it loud enough so that everyone could hear.

    I don't know if any of you have experienced something like this, but why do some people seem uncomfortable when a person isn't very talkative? I wonder if it's that they start taking it personally and infer that it must be something that is wrong with them?

    Even though I don't talk a whole lot, I do talk to people I work closely with. However, if I can avoid small talk and get more work done, I try to put off chatting until later.

    I guess a quiet person is more noticeable when you're dealing with a small business such as this one. Maybe I'm making a big deal out of nothing, but I just don't understand what's the logic behind their behavior.

    Has anyone experienced something like this?

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    I'm an extremely quiet person myself. It has only been pretty recently that I have worked to change that. However, I still get the feeling that I am an easy target at my workplace(see my thread in this folder). I didn't realize why I got so many negative reactions for being quiet until I met this extremely quiet, 40 year old man.

    This guy is an extremely, gentle and good guy. However, his good character is overshadowed by the fact that he has no backbone at all. This guy has been unemployed for several years and he has shown no interest in getting a job. Since he has no job, he spends the day sleeping. Now there is nothing wrong with an adult male living in his mother's house. However, there is something wrong when his mom imposes a curfew of 10:00 PM. Some days he does not go out, because of his mother. The guy drives his mother's broken down car, even though his mother is wealthy. I mean the two of them live in this gigantic house. The downside is that the house is out in the middle of no where, far away from the city. I feel really sorry for the guy. He has the word "doormat" written all over his face. The guy has no passions in life. He never shows any strong emotions at all. He makes no effort at all to approach women.

    I am not saying that you are like this guy at all since you are motivated enough to get a job. But I am saying that a lot of people equate being taciturn and quiet as being a pushover or a doormat. People are uncomfortable with doormats, because they recognize that there have been times where they have been doormats to. This results in the hostility that some people show toward quiet people.

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    I think the logic behind their behaviour is probably mostly about their need to fill up the quiet space with blather, and the easiest thing to try to talk to you about is the one thing they know about - your silence. If they knew more about you they would probably try and fill in the quiet with that ("say, Pete, how is that house hunting going?").

    I think that people have that urge to say this stuff (a) to bond, but (b) mostly to reduce their own insecurity about not knowing what to say, about the fact that they don't know you. Your quiet attitude probably makes some people nervous or uncomfortable. You could be thinking all sorts of things, you might even not like them! . Or if they are confident, it just confuses them and they think that they can "bring you out of your shell" by being boisterous with you. On that note, if managers are joking about this stop for a minute and ask yourself if they are trying to tell you something - it might be their way of saying "start acting like us buddy if you want to get on around here".

    So yes, I think that if you are so quiet as to set yourself apart from the others then they may well come to dislike you because they don't trust you, you make them insecure. I think that just for the sake of your own peace of mind in the office re your own career opportunities it might be worth coming out of yourself every so often to play the game and have some social chit chat. I have tried to do this myself as I realised that my job was not just about getting stuff done (which I would much rather concentrate on), it's about being seen to get on with others and be perceived as a good colleague. I think I have even been told that by others in one way or another.

    I think that the quiet one can get tarred with all sorts of bad reputation quiet undeservedly, because people can't get their heads around why you don't want to small talk with them, and they will make up something so that it can then make sense. It's much easier for them to say "Pete thinks he's too good for us", or "I don't trust that guy" than to accept that you are just quiet.

    But it does depend on the people concerned of course. I have chosen the less charitable interpretation to go with here, but it is also the one I have experienced (as well as what I feel when someone is terribly quiet around me)...

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    I don' think they like quite people because it can be a sign of passive aggression.

    Aggressive people are easy to handle as they are predictable, its those quiet ones you have to watch because they can snap at provocation and you will not be prepared for it.

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    Member eTired's Avatar
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    This has been a problem my whole life. People always whining to me, or talking behind my back about how angry I seem all the time, why I don't talk so much, what's my problem.

    When people say I seem angry all the time, what do I say? This is my face. It's just the way it looks, Jesus Christ.
    Why don't I talk so much? Should I just go on and on about nothing? Are you so afraid of silence? Some of the people at work aren't worth talking to, no one ever thinks about that. I just want to tell them, "We're here to work, not be friends."

    It would be nice if people worried about their own behavior instead of someone else's that they don't understand, and don't want to bother to understand.

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    While there's nothing wrong with being quiet, work can be a lot more fun and a lot less stressful if you can get along in a friendly way with your coworkers. I'm never going to pick on a quiet coworker, but I do prefer working with people with whom I'm going to have some social interaction... It just makes the day easier.

    How about you try to be more social during lunch break for example?

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    Platinum Member thejigsup's Avatar
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    I am the jokester around my workplace. Quiet people are just more boring. However, if you can't be talkative and do your job then I would be quiet. Your job is more important than being popular. I love to make small talk, but there are times when even I need quiet and concentration time.

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    Gold Member Weeblie's Avatar
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    Yup, people dislike silence. I've been at my job for about six months and it wasn't until recently that they've stopped with the quiet comments. And the only reason they've stopped is because I've become more vocal.

    This would've stopped four months ago, but my manager never seemed to 'hear' me. With her (and maybe this is the case with your supervisors) I needed to give her more feedback on my work and let her know as many details as possible. Until I did that she always felt disconnected from me. For the co-workers it was a combination of small talk and having snappy comebacks for the really rude people.

    It really is worth trying to talk more. I mean some days, I'm just not in the mood to talk at all, but instead of being made fun of, people now ask if I'm alright.

  10. #9
    Bronze Member RedSoxFan84's Avatar
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    I've been experiencing the same thing. Started a job three weeks ago and people are always commenting about how quiet I am. A new person started last week who is a lot more outgoing and they seem to favor her, even offering for her to have lunch with them (which they never did with me). It's something that really bothers me because I can't change who I am. There's always the possibility that I might come out of my shell after I get to know these people better, but I really can't change who I am.

    From their perspective, they might feel like you think you are better than them, that they aren't worthy of conversing with you. At least, that's the feeling I've gotten in the past. It's obviously not true, but I guess it's what they think.

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    I am the type that is more quiet than sociable at work. For me, I am just never interested in the boring small, fluff talk. I don't care about how your daughter's car is or talking about stocks, etc. If someone started talking about philosophy or art or something than I would be much more inclined to talk to them more. I just don't get how people can talk about something that is meaningless in the long run for so long. Not to say that I am usually respectful with everyone and do try and make an effort to talk a bit given that I am respected back. A lot of the time, I don't even realize that I am bothering someone with the way I am being until they joke about it or whatever. I would be completely oblivious that I'm making someone uncomfortable. I'm too busy thinking a ton of my own thoughts in my own head.
    "Do you want to fix the problem or soundbyte it?" -- Ross Perot during 1992 presidential debate.

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