I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve been talking to people–or trying to talk to them–and when I get to the end of my sentence, they have blank, spaced out looks on their faces. What comes next is either a “Huh?” or an “Oh, were you talking to me?” All my life, people have tried to call me quiet. Maybe when I was younger that was true. Rather than quiet, I’m soft-spoken. There are certain hurdles that soft-spoken people face, especially in college, but luckily I’ve learned a few tips that help me cope.
Be patient, you must
Patience just comes with being soft-spoken. You’re more likely to be struck by lightning on Mars than you are to be heard the first time you start talking to someone. Take a deep breath and think of how Yoda would want you to respond. If all else fails, just wait. People will eventually begin to wonder why you’re just standing there, staring expectantly at them.
Make Eye Contact
It’s important to make eye contact with whoever you are trying to talk with. Let’s be honest: If you just start speaking, the chance of anybody listening is slim-to-none. But if you stare at someone like you’ve got laser vision, he might start paying attention to Superman’s mysterious relative.
Body Language is Everything
Try to be cognizant of your body language. It’s always a good idea to lean towards whoever you want to talk to. But if you don’t want to seem like you’re trying to invade her space, take some advice from Italians: Use your hands. Gestures are always a plus to getting your point across, or just getting someone’s attention. Just avoid flailing your arms for the sake of flailing your arms–the goal is to grab attention, not cause concern.
Get Used to Repeating Yourself
It can get really annoying really fast–trust me–but try hard not to get too frustrated. You just have to accept the fact that phrases like “I can’t hear you” and “Are you talking to me?” are going to be thrown at you all the time. Get ready to sound like a broken record for the long haul.
Don’t Be Too Loud
Sometimes it feels like you have to shout for people to stop looking at you as if you’re just moving your lips rather than speaking actual words. But the minute you shout–or try to be heard at all–get ready for people to overreact. They will either say something like, “Oh that’s so adorable,” or “There’s no need for you to scream,” or “Wow, I didn’t know your voice could be that loud.”
Be Aware, You Live in a Loud World
Others are always louder than you, so feel free to tell people when they need to “use their inside voice.” But be aware that some people don’t know how to not be loud. This means that you’re automatically seen as quiet by comparison, which too often leads to the assumption that you’re always quiet, or worse, “shy.”
Learn to Let Go
Sometimes people just won’t hear you. It’s important to know when to just smile and walk away. Save your voice and your breath for another conversation with someone who will actually listen.