In Defense of the Loud People


Photo Credit 1

Rachelle P., Journalist

Loud people. We all know at least one, but many of us know several. They’re the ones always talking and always being hushed by the adults around them.

“Why are you so loud?” They’re asked.

Why are loud people this way? Why don’t they seem to hear you? Why do their voices continue to gain volume, despite your repeated requests for them to be quiet?

A great majority of the time, such persons don’t do it on purpose. In fact, usually it’s a complete accident. They sometimes act like they can’t hear us. The truth is, they want to be heard themselves. They want someone to listen. They hunger for validation instead of constant criticism. They crave the feeling of being loved and acknowledged. And to show that, they speak louder. They get excited, and their voice increases in volume. They want to feel important, like someone cares about what they have to say.

And what do we do? We ask them to lower their voices until we’re yelling at them to be quiet. And they sit there in silence, wondering what in the world they did wrong. I know. I’ve been there, as have so many others. Loud people subconsciously want to know you are listening, or they feel intense emotions. These emotions come out as a louder tone, and we act like they are purposely trying to annoy us.

“I don’t understand why you can’t just be quiet!”

The act of quieting loud people generally leads to two outcomes.

#1 – They become quiet, insecure, and doubt if anyone will ever listen to them. They are emotionally wounded. They are scared to speak, in fear of being shut down.

#2 – They become louder. They are also emotionally hurt, but try to hide it by ignoring the requests to be quiet and speaking louder, for they are still seeking to be heard.

How can we avoid either outcome? By validating them, letting them know they are heard, and by seeking to praise before criticizing, we can avoid both outcomes. Validating looks like telling them their emotions and concerns are real.

When they say, “I’m really scared because this terrible thing happened,” you respond, “Wow. I’m so sorry that that happened. That must be really difficult for you.” Let them know that their fears and other emotions are real.

Letting them know they are heard looks like, “I hear you. I like that.” Or, “That sounds like a great idea!” When people don’t feel heard, they’ll often speak louder, or repeat their idea. They need to be acknowledged, and know you are not ignoring them on purpose. Let them know you heard their idea. You don’t have to go with their idea, you don’t even have to explore it, but let them know you heard what they were bursting to tell you.

There will be times when they do legitimately need to be quiet. But in order for them to listen to you, there needs to be steps taken beforehand. Validate them, let them know they are heard, and also tell them what they are doing right. So often we criticize harshly without creating a basis of trust. Allow them to be loud sometimes. Criticize less, praise more. And after all that, when you need to ask them to be quiet, realize that they’re not loud on purpose.

Say, “Hey _____, you are speaking loudly right now,” instead of, “Do you have to be so loud?”

Or, if they are talking too much and not letting others speak, tell them, “I love what you are saying right now. I’d love to hear what the others are thinking also.” Others want a reason to be quiet. “We are in a library. Can you please speak softer?”

In conclusion, validate. Let them know you hear them, and build a relationship of trust. Don’t quiet them unnecessarily. Tell them that they are loved and that you care about what they are saying. Don’t get upset when they speak loudly. Be patient. Trust takes time. Don’t set a goal to “fix them.” Love them, and the rest will come naturally.