11 Ways To Respond To ‘Why Are You So Quiet?’

If you’re an introvert or usually not much of a talker, you’ve probably been asked, ‘Why are you so quiet?’. You’ve also probably wondered how to respond to this question.

You might feel this question is annoying, rude or not polite, feel that you’re being judged for being quiet or silent. Or judged for simply not being in the mood to talk in a world that favours extroverts and sees quietness as weird and not normal.

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Some ask the question because they are concerned you are too quiet. Or they want to have a conversation with you to get to know you. Whatever the reason, it can be challenging to come up with a response.

I’m an introvert who isn’t always talkative. When I’m around others I’m usually the listener or can’t get a word in if everyone’s talking loudly. And I’ve copped my fair share of ‘Why are you so quiet?’, coupled with the fact that I’m Chinese and some assume I fit the quiet Asian stereotype.

I personally don’t mind the question but always take a few moments to come up with a response.

How you respond can depend on who’s asking the question, where you are and context. If the question’s coming from someone you don’t know well, maybe you’re inclined to give a detached response. If you’re hanging out with friends, maybe you might respond more casually.

Here are some ways you can respond to ‘Why are you so quiet?’. Some of these responses are polite, some casual, and some more unusual.

1. ‘I’ve got nothing to say.’

Or ‘I don’t have anything to say.’ Sometimes you hear what others are saying and don’t have anything to add, or what’s being discussed is not something you’re interested in and so you can’t say much.

In situations where I am not familiar with the topic of discussion, I rather say nothing than say something and it turns out to be ignorant and offensive.

2. ‘I’m listening.’

You might be interested in what someone is talking about, so you listen. You might be listening and learning about the topic that’s intriguing to you. Or you could be trying to keep up the pace with the conversation, and if you’re an introvert, you might need some quiet to follow along.

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3. ‘I’m focusing.’

Following on from listening, sometimes maybe you don’t talk much in a conversation because you’re trying to understand what is being said. After all, you have to understand what is being said before you can form an opinion, contribute your opinion and ask questions.

I’m someone who takes my time to think through what someone is talking about, trying to see different sides of a conversation and then see where I stand. Rarely do I make my mind up and have something to contribute right away.

4. ‘Why are you so loud?’

If you’re an introvert and like quietness, this can be a way of asserting your personality. If you’re annoyed by ‘Why are you so quiet?’ and are enjoying your own company, this response can subtly let the other person know how you feel.

5. ‘Don’t you like quiet or silence?’

This is another response to stand up for quietness or if you’re a talkative person who doesn’t want to talk all the time. You may be an introvert or someone wanting to enjoy quiet time reading or a quiet lunch to unwind, and could ask the person talking to you why they want a conversation – and then maybe explain you recharge by not talking.

6. ‘What?’

Maybe you didn’t expect to hear ‘Why are you so quiet?’ and get caught off guard. Maybe you didn’t realise the other person was expecting you to speak up – and you’re not a fan of being put on the spot and expected to speak up. And the question is a rather ambiguous question as there are many reasons why someone may not be all that talkative.

So ‘What?’ would be a natural instinctive response, querying why the question is being asked and also where the other person is really coming from.

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7. ‘I don’t want to talk about that.’

Some topics are more sensitive than others and not all topics you want to talk about. When such topics are brought up, they probably strike a chord emotionally and you rather stay quiet. Or perhaps it’s a topic you don’t want to comment on or get involved in because you’re uncomfortable with it or with the people you’re around. Being quiet could be your safety net.

8. Say nothing.

Silence is an answer in itself. With silence, nothing really can be held against you. You’re always entitled to choose to not say anything, especially when you’re around a creepy stranger or you’ve got a bad feeling about the people you’re talking to.

9. ‘I don’t know. I’m just me.’

Make no excuses for who you are. Being quiet is not a weakness. It’s often a strength in quiet disguise: perhaps you’re listening, thinking and strategising when you’re keeping quiet, or you’re protecting your energy and honouring your need for solitude.

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10. ‘I’ve been raised by librarians.’

Borrowing this response, maybe for a small minority of you this is true. Maybe you spent a lot of time in libraries growing up or quietness has always been ingrained within the proud introvert in you. Maybe you just want to use this response for a laugh.

11. ‘I’m Chewbacca. I’m listening and being there for you.’

Most of the time you mean no harm by being quiet. Sometimes you are quiet because you genuinely feel the other person is important. You genuinely want to give the other person the time of the day, and do so by being attentive and listen to them. This response can be a very direct way of letting them know you care about them.

*  *  *

There’s no right or wrong way to answer ‘Why are you so quiet?’. Apart from where you are and who you’re with, how you answer can depend on your mood and if you’re actually up for a chat.

People have different ways of communicating and expressing themselves. For some talking isn’t their strong suit so they might be quieter. Some don’t mind talking and can talk for hours. Others might like talking but for shorter periods in quiet spaces.

Quietness encourages more contemplation and reflection, and being quiet can be due to genetics and also temperament and external influences. There’s the interesting fact that Asian students are generally quieter than their Western peers in the classroom. Research has explored ways to encourage Asian students to speak up as part of learning, and suggested their quietness is due to cultural factors. A study has also shown Asian Americans are quiet when responding to racial discrimination.

In addition, research has found compared to extroverts, introverts tend to have more brain activity in their frontal lobe regions of the brain. These regions are stimulated when doing more introspective activities such as planning and problem solving as opposed to sensory and emotional stimulation. A study also found extroverts have a more sensitive dopamine system and respond more towards external rewards compared to introverts.

In other words, sometimes being quiet and not talking all the time can’t be helped. It’s inherently ingrained in you, whether it’s due to your temperament, how you were raised, your environment or what you choose to believe in.

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Growing up in a traditional-minded Chinese family, I was always taught to listen to my parents, elders and teachers. I was taught that speaking up or speaking against their opinion was disrespectful. I grew to embrace being quiet. Though over the years I do like speaking up and stating my opinion bluntly, I very much like keeping quiet most of the time and listening, trying to suss out who people are beyond the surface and their motivations.

When I’m around people who are highly expressive and talking with much energy, that wears me down quickly. If I pipe up and try to match their energy, that wears me down faster and at times is triggering to me – and I crave for quietness and retreating into the shadows.

For some of you, keeping quiet in conversation is natural. Or you could feel the need to keep quiet for your own sanity. And it’s a choice you make.

Being quiet shouldn’t be questioned. Instead being quiet and not talking all the time should be accepted, and respected.

Have you been asked, ‘Why are you so quiet?’ How did you respond?

165 thoughts on “11 Ways To Respond To ‘Why Are You So Quiet?’

  1. I like the idea of telling people I’m Chewie and I’m here to listen lol 🙂 I have had this question a lot in my time. Also an introvert and somebody that prefers to listen. If you don’t want me to be quiet, give me a chance to speak haha. Miss you my friend xx

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    • Thanks my friend! Yes being introverted, we really do like to listen! It’s such a great thing! Sometimes people just talk all over us even when they want us to speak – and they probably don’t realise it. It’s so funny! Miss you too my friend xxx

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  2. Abraham Lincoln supposedly said, “Tis better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” That’s my kind of pointed, shade-throwing response. Though I like your “Why are you so loud?” response also.

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    • That is a good quote. Sometimes speaking up without much thought doesn’t always end the best. I also really like ‘Why are you so loud?’. Sometimes people who talk all the time – such as mansplaining kind of talk – can be really loud – and ignorant of others at the same time.

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  3. Like you I’m much more of a listener then a talker. Sometimes I go for a day out with my neighbour, he is sketching for his artwork, I’m taking photograps, and he talks 90% of the time and I listen, and I’m totally fine with that, and, I suppose, he is too. I use to be shy, but that isn’t the case anymore. I also thought it kind of neccesary to add my points of view to the conversation, even if I had no clue where I was talking about. That has changed as well. So I’m good with not talking much. But in a casual conversation with friends, one should be involved at least a bit. I’m still learning to be active in the talking without forcing myself . I think getting people to know you as a silent but still commited person is the key. How to show you actually are commited? By when you finally open your mouth, saying something genuinely useful.

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    • You have some very thoughtful points there, Peter. I really enjoyed reflecting on them, especially ‘getting people to know you as a silent but still commited person’. It sounds like that’s how your nice neighbour sees you although he talks the most. Some people just get along that way – and it sounds like the two of you have walking in common.

      So agree with that many tend to appreciate honesty and genuine thought in conversation. I’m sure you have many thoughtful things to say to your friends, and others too 🙂

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  4. At least in Western society, the culture is to praise and reward extroverts. I think Western culture’s emphasis on capitalism and entrepreneurship has led to this idea of extroverts being “better” than introverts, as on the outside, they’re seen as charismatic, as natural-born leaders, etc. Things have been getting better over the past few years as an introvert, though, with social media (and, to some extent, the pandemic) bringing to light that introverts can be just as charismatic and natural-born leaders as their more outgoing counterparts. Your responses (rather, comebacks) to the age-old “why are you so quiet?” question are genius, and I admit I’ve used a couple of them before. I heard that question a lot as a kid, but rarely nowadays, as I believe people are becoming more respectful and accepting of those who may not necessarily want to be in the spotlight, but rather in the background. We can’t all be extroverts, so there’s no shame in being the opposite of that!

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    • This is such a thoughtful comment from you, Rebecca. Agree that the emphasis on capitalism and entrepreneurship – and outspoken leadership – has been the advantage of extroverts, and introverts get drowned out. The pandemic has slowed and quietened life down a bit for some of us, and it really is great to see more awareness of living more quietly.

      Good to hear ‘Why are you so quiet?’ so often these days. It’s a question that sneaks up on you, though. So hopefully you don’t get caught too off guard next time 🙂

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  5. It’s an interesting situation, Mabel. Like you, I’m an introvert and prefer to listen. I’ll only speak if I think I have something worth saying. I prefer silence and information collection rather than talking for its sake.
    I tend not to get asked why I’m quiet. I’m guessing it’s because most people aren’t interested in my opinion, which suits me just fine 😊

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    • Thanks, Gaz. I really like how you phrase it, preferring silence and information collection over talking for the sake of talking. It would feel so forced if you talked when you had nothing to say. I’m sure people are interested in your opinion. They are probably letting you have your quiet time thinking up your next dish you are going to make 😊

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    • Thanks for stopping by, Narayan. That is a good response, asking the other person why they don’t like being quiet directly. And yes, it’s a start of a conversation – and who knows where that can lead.

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  6. Oh yes. I have been asked “Why am I so quiet,”many times. It makes the social situation awkward and I so wish I could have said, ” I’ve been raised by librarians! ”
    What a clever response that could defuse any awkwardness. As I got older, I have made myself talk more and developed conversation skills, asking questions to encourage people to open up. Then I get to listen to what they have to say. It works and you learn lots.
    Some excellent suggestions here, Mabel.

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    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Amanda. You hit the nail on the head – ‘Why are you so quiet’ can make for awkward social situations. Some people really are simply quiet or have their reasons for being quiet.

      That is great you put yourself out there and engage in conversation, Amanda. And encouraging people to open up to. You probably have a lot of well-meaningful people and thoughtful conversations in real life – and I can also see that through your blog 🙂

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      • Mabel, you are very sweet. I find that people tell me that most interesting and pertinent things when I do engage them in conversation. If I resist those inner quiet girl urges to remain quiet and not to bother with conversation, I usually hear the most fascinating and interesting things. That spurs me on to persevere again! I think that you do this exact thing with your writing and mostly likely when you have something to say, irl, it is never prattle but meaningful, illuminating words of wisdom. 😉

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        • You must have a lovely genuine approach with others, and so they open up to you. Sometimes there’s only so much you can get out of from being quiet all the time. Conversation can lead to hearing interesting things and lead to connection. It’s so nice of you to say about my writing, Amanda. I do like writing, but also do like meaningful, illuminating conversations in real life 🙂

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  7. The poser, Mabel, is one of those social challenges in the way of introverts, and I am one myself. If it becomes an irritant, I guess the inwardly drawn group of people out there must start countering with “why are you chattering away all the time?” That said, the forward movement of life requires meaningful interaction between people and communities where extroverts and introverts rub shoulders with one another.

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    • I like that suggestion, asking others why they are chattering away all the time. Chattering all the time isn’t a bad thing – some of us introverts ca only take so much talk. Agree, moving forward in life requires interaction and connection between different people and personalities, And that makes the world so much more interesting. Hope you are doing well, Raj.

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  8. Haha Nr.10 and 11 are brilliant! A very creative way to avoid this annoying question. Nr.1 is quite common for me. But when I’m irritated, I will use Nr.12 “Talk with my hand. No interest” 🙂

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    • Thank you so much Len. I also say, ‘I got nothing to say’ quite a bit. Oh that is such a clever response, talk to my hand! It’s also very funny! I’ll have to steal that one and try it out some time and see how people react 😄

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  9. Well done! I like ‘What?’ I don’t mind quiet people, but I am motivated to help them open up. I’ll ask questions only they can answer. They’ll know I’m interested because everything intrigues me! Maybe that won’t work.

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  10. What an interesting topic! Being quiet is one’s personality, which is formed according to the environment given to the child and an adolescent. Like you say, you were raised with those values of listening and respecting the opinions. I too am an introvert but I’ve tried to come out of my shell, more so because of my husband who likes his silence. Often people ask me the reasons and I say, ask him questions and he might answer! 😀If you ask him why is he quiet, he would just smile.

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    • Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Balroop. That is lovely you are an introvert and learnt to come out of your shell because of your husband. It sounds like your husband likes being in the background being very thoughtful, and you probably have had many interesting conversations with others. Smiling is a good response too – much to smile and love about quietness. Hope you are doing well, Balroop 🙂

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  11. Hi Mabel, A great post on the various definitions and the paradox of an introvert and an extrovert. I believe many writers lean towards being an introvert. I also believe we are all on a spectrum and different situations will lean us in one direction. You describe this well “…can depend on who’s asking the question, where you are and context.”

    You give great examples. I especially like #2 and #8 and ha, ha #10. Communicating in general is a multi-layered and complex topic. Thank you for sharing a great, thought-provoking post.

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    • It is so lovely to see you, Erica. That is such a great thought, that different situations will see us behave differently. Sometimes we are more introverted, other times extroverted.

      You said it. Communicating is a complex topic, and for some of us communicating clearly itself is complex. When I visited your blog earlier this year, I wondered where you were. Hope you are doing well and looking forward to visiting yours soon 🙂

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  12. Yes, I have been asked this question a bit. I am more of a listener. I usually go with the “Ah. It’s just me, I like to listen’ and then smile.
    Sometimes if I am passionate about something I can prattle on fr a while but I am easily interrupted and then I just let the conversation go.
    Nothing wrong with us quiet types Mabel., Some people don’t trust us but that can be handy sometimes 🙂
    Stay warm Mabel.

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    • I love that response, ‘Ah, it’ just me. I like to listen.’ I think I’ll have to steal that one for some time 🙂

      So agree. Nothing wrong with us quiet types at all. Keep being yourself, Andy. Hope you are well and it isn’t too cold over there 😊

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    • Thanks, Donna. It is frustrating when you want quiet and others insist on talking. Sometimes you just got to say you want some quiet and maybe be a bit humorous about it. Hope all is well and take care 🙂

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  13. You really got me laughing on this one! I love your responses.
    I thought of another one, which would be ‘I’m sorry, I can’t hear you, I suffer from selective hearing. And please don’t talk louder, I can’t hear you any better.’ 😂

    It’s complicated. You were raised in a way that encouraged your silence. I was raised in a crazy household with nine people trying to compete for the spotlight. Learning to speak up and out was a survival strategy.

    My husband is more like you. And I think both of us prefer a one on one or two on two situation (the two of us chatting with another couple) where we can focus on what one or two people are saying. More than that is overwhelming. We are both introverts, who need a lot of downtime to reflect and digest. And yet we are different due to past conditioning, I guess.

    Mabel, you always come up with the most engaging topics! Always fun to read your posts! 🙏💓

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  14. 11 Ways To Respond To ‘Why Are You So Quiet?’

    “I just farted.”
    “I’m trying not to sneeze.”
    “Someone I loved just died.”
    “I’m trying to decide if I should confess sth to you…” *walk away*
    “Oh, you know what they say, we have two ears and one mouth, so we can listen twice as much as we talk.”
    “Did you hear that?” *strain your hearing*
    “I’m drunk.”
    “Aw, man, I’m so freakin’ high…”
    “Once upon a time…”
    “Do you have any money? If I could just borrow some…”
    *creepy whisper* “There’s a secret I keep, deep inside…”

    But seriously, we have a 6 year old student at our school who doesn’t speak AT ALL. And a couple of my colleagues said they didn’t speak for a couple of grades, when they were in primary school. I think it’s more common that folks think. xo

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    • Hahaha Lani! I love all of these! You got a great sense of humour! I really want to try, ‘There’s a secret I keep, deep inside…’ and saying it in a rather menacing, haunting voice of a villain lol.

      It sounds like the 6 year old student is reeallly quiet! Some people will speak up when they are ready 🙂

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      • She speaks at home but not at school. We’ve all accepted it. Curious, isn’t it? I was quiet until probably 4th grade… sometimes it’s about finding the right people 😉

        Glad you enjoyed my silliness. And have fun trying them out! 😛

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        • Interesting she speaks at home. Maybe she’s more comfortable at home and not so much in the environment that is school. Some people do take some time before feeling some place and around certain people before speaking up.

          Always enjoy your humour, Lani. You make for a great person to talk to 😛

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  15. It’s my suspicion that most people who love the craft of writing are unobtrusive and, often, prefer the written language to the spoken one. We prefer life not to be so much “in our faces”.

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    • I so agree with what you said there. As a writer, I prefer life – and people – to not always be ‘in our faces’. People being in our faces and speaking up can push us out of our comfort zone. But there’s only so much we can feel comfortable with. Keep writing, Glynis.

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  16. There are so many aspects to being quiet. Most Asian societies tend to be different from the ones in the western hemisphere. We tend to mingle a lot, socialize, and live in some of the most crowded urban areas, in short, talking and conversing is a way of life. In this respect, the one who chooses to talk is not considered to be a good personality trait. Ins such societies, people appreciate those who talk a lot and are thought to be smarter and people-centric. Unfortunately, this is not true. People who are quiet are more sensible, they spend more energy on making sound decisions and don’t react with knee-jerk reactions. Sometimes, people talk less because they feel their opinion will not be appreciated or they prefer to cut the conversation. Any which ways, numerous research has proved that being quiet is actually a good personality trait. Thanks for sharing your perspective on this topic, Mabel.

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    • Thank you so much for reflecting and your wonderful comment, Arv. I have to agree with what you said. It’s true that Asian societies mingle a lot like others, and talking is not always seen as a good trait. There’s an emphasis on communal in Asian cultures – and this is where quieter and considerate stems from. Being quiet helps us to think, assess and be more meaningful. As you said, being quiet can lead to making more sensible decisions.

      Though I like speaking up, I do love being quiet. It has so many benefits. Hope you are doing well, Arv 🙂

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  17. Another wonderful article Mabel.
    I loved all your responses but “I am being Chewbacca” and “Why are you so loud” made me laugh out loud. I agree – ‘being quiet’ is a trait that is so often overlooked and/or misunderstood. I appreciate how you address these topics so eloquently. I hope you are doing well dear friend.
    Warm wishes,
    Takami

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    • Thank you so much for reading, Takami. Lovely that I made you laugh out loud. I do like people to feel some fun and uplifted when they read my writings 😊 Agree that being quiet is often overlooked or misunderstood. Being quiet isn’t a weakness – it’s a strength that isn’t always obvious. I am well. Hope you are doing well too. Best wishes to you and your family.

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  18. This is interesting, Mabel. Although I am an introvert and tend to be a listener more than a talker, I don’t recall ever being asked why I was quiet. I’ve certainly been told to cheer up at times. I would say most people don’t notice I’m quiet. They just keep blabbing on about themselves and their own (perceived) importance until I can politely excuse myself and move on. (I think you’ve written about that before. 😊)
    The variety of your responses, should I ever be asked, will come in useful. Thank you.

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  19. I particularly liked #11 😀 I have been asked this question, and one answer I tend to go to is “I’m a little tired today”. I enjoy a balanced conversation. Being quiet together, in the company of a good friend can be a blessing. Interesting post, Mabel and excellent answers to a question that can catch us off guard.

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    • I love your response, Lisa. I might need to borrow ‘I’m a bit tired today’ some time, especially on days when I am indeed feeling tired and not up for a chat. Wouldn’t want anyone to think there’s something wrong with me though with that response, but still a good response 😀 Like you, I enjoy a balanced conversation as much as being quiet together. Hope you’re doing well ❤

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  20. Nobody has ever asked me, “Why are you so quiet?” In fact, my grandmother used to say to my mum, “The child has talked all day…” When I am quiet, people ask me if I am feeling okay because it is so unusual. It is very common for people in Scotland to chat endlessly to anyone, so perhaps there is a cultural element. I don’t think I would ever ask anyone that question (why are you so quiet) because it seems a bit rude, although I might try to start a conversation.
    I like answer #10 the best – interesting post, Mabel!

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  21. Interesting thoughts here on quiet and introvert preferences. I love to listen and I’m an extrovert with many introvert tendencies. I think it comes with being a Gemini. Lol ❤

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  22. I believe it was Stephen King who said, “Quiet people have the loudest minds.” I prefer to listen and only say something if I feel that I can contribute meaningfully to the conversation. Some people just cannot resist butting into a debate even though they have no knowledge of the subject being discussed. I find this so annoying.

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    • It is very polite and thoughtful of you to listen, Sylvia. I also find it off-putting when people but in in conversations and say something without really knowing what they are saying – and they probably do that to make themselves feel important. But I do think most of us have good intentions. Hope you are doing well, Sylvia 😊❤

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  23. I think my parents and those around me would have preferred me to tone it down a notch when I was younger as I was terribly loquacious way back then. Nowadays, I’m more comfortable letting others speak while I do my own thing with headphones. Guess you could say, it’s part and process of growing older.

    If anyone asks me why I’m so quiet, I’d usually tell them that I’m “just thinking” – close to answer #3, but merely phrased in a different manner. 😅

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  24. I’ve no idea if the other comment went through, so I’m just regurgitating what I wrote earlier in the event that the comment went MIA, Mabel.

    I think my parents and those around me would have preferred me to take it down by one notch because I was a loquacious child way back then. Nowadays, I’m more than comfortable being left alone to do my own thing with headphones rather than speaking. I think it’s a spillover of my tendency to message people instead.

    If anyone asks me why I am quiet now, I’d say that I’m “just thinking” – close to answer #3, but only differently worded. 😅

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    • Looks like the Trash folder was hungry and ate your comment, Ciana. I’ve rescued both so it’s not likely to happen again 🙂 Oh that’s so interesting to hear that you were a loquacious child. It’s not a bad thing and sometimes we go through more talkative phases and other times quiet phases. Like you, I have a tendency to message people instead of talking on the phone. Sometimes I’ve done video chats and I don’t mind them, but a lot of the time it really is being quiet and messaging. I like your response, ‘Just thinking.’ Might have to steal that and try it out sometime 🙂

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      • Oh my gosh, looks like the Trash folder loves the taste of my comments 😀 I think it’s because I was less worried of screwing up when I was younger, which explained why I was loquacious. Nowadays, speaking makes me nervous, especially if it is a large crowd or to someone whom I’m not familiar with.

        Messaging is fun because it buys you some time to respond with the right words 😛

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        • Yes, you put it very nicely – the Trash folder loves the taste of your comments. And not it’s not hungry since this comment came through alright 😀 I also find it nervy to speak to a large crowd – but when you do speak and get it over and done with, it’s done and a great achievement.

          Yes, messaging is fun. You can take your time to respond, or maybe not at all! 😄

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  26. enjoyed this post – 🙂 rarely do I stay too quiet (hahaha) – but have had my times – and I truly respect those that are on the quiet side – it really is a wiring thing and you had so many insightful reelections on this topic, Mabel

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    • Maybe there are times when you are quiet and don’t realise it, Y. Sometimes us quiet ones do really like it when the chattier ones talk so we can bask in our silence 😄 Thanks, Y. Hope you are doing well.

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      • Hi! Well I think you are right- about quiet times –
        It sure does depend on the situation and who we are with – how “safe” or comfy one feels or if we feel “head games” being played – I will be very quiet!
        But you really provided some great responses to offer!
        The “I am listening” one is a fav because it can be such a compliment to the speaker and it also shows warmth and engagement – and maybe models for people that Not everyone is “racing to speak next”
        Because some folks are so busy thinking about what they want to say next and so they are racing with their next line!
        So it also models more listening and I this can be important 😉
        The Chewbacca line was hysterical and at times could be appropriate to add a splash of fun – so I like that you added that or too!

        The “silence” reply could be a smooth reply but it could also be cold or aloof – I guess it really depends on many factors eh?

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        • I love your thoughtful reflections, Y. You bring so much food for thought for us to think about. It really does depend on the situation on how you’ll perceive ‘Why are you so quiet?’ I agree with what you said on ‘I’m listening’. It shows warmth, especially if you do engage with what the other person is saying when you speak up as opposed to jumping in with your own opinion right away.

          Racing to speak next is a real thing for some. They may simply be eager to share and feel they have important information. But yes, not everyone races to speak next and it can be so unnatural.

          I think responding with silence can lead to awkwardness. Sometimes silence can be seen by others as you’re not listening. Agree that it really does depend 🙂

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          • Hi – well thank you for giving us so many angles to go with your thoughtful articles.

            I did think of something else that relates here.
            My son had a friend for a few years who was very quiet.
            Then one day – I realized we didn’t know him at all. He was always engaged with body language when over at our house and was the best listener – but what happened was he knew us but we never got to know him that much . — so eventually – I learned to ask subtle questions to see if he wanted to share, I also learned that he needed time and so more of that “embracing the pause” – which Americans have a tough time with – ((what – silence? someone talk – hahahah – jk)
            anyhow, the questions never put him in the spotlight – but I found ways to get to know them – because in his quietness – but still attentive and present – we just didn’t get to know him…

            Like

  27. I’m with you on 2, 4, & 9. In my experience when I’ve been asked why I’m being quiet, it is meant as a criticism. You know extroverts are uncomfortable with quietude. Poor dears

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  28. This post is interesting! I feel like phrasing a question with “Why” (like, Why are you quiet or Why are you (insert whatever) does sound like it’s an accusation of sorts. Even gentle rephrasing of “I’m wondering what your quietness indicates” can be less aggressive I feel like. Though, it’s also intriguing how I think when people are quiet, sometimes other people can project onto their quietness what they may be expecting of them. Appreciate that your post seems grounded in assertiveness for people who may be quieter and takes into account potential cultural differences!

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    • So agree if you phrase a question with ‘Why’ it can come across as an accusation – perhaps a very, very fine line between being judgemental and curious. I like how you said sometimes people can project onto someone else’s quietness – and that made me think that someone can take advantage of someone’s quietness, and assert their dominance.

      Thank you so much for reading, Thomas. Wishing you well for your endeavours ahead 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  29. As always Mabel I am left reflecting on your words. As an extrovert, the silence of introverts used to make me uncomfortable. I would think maybe they didn’t hear me. Maybe I have offended them. I came to understand it was my own discomfort with silence that was the issue.
    I think I have mentioned before that over time I am moving on the scale toward introversion. I get more tired in crowds of people, well not that I have been in crowds much in the last two years. At any rate I don’t seem to enjoy the chatter as much as I once did.
    As to your suggestions I laughed out loud at ‘I’ve been raised by librarians’. Well that would stop even the most extreme introvert for a moment.

    Like

    • Thank you so much for stopping by and reflecting, Sue. It is so interesting to hear from you as an extroverted person, and how an extroverted person might actually feel towards quietness. I hope none of us quieter folk have offended you with our quietness. Sometimes perceiving someone as ‘too quiet’ or ‘too loud’ can simply a misunderstanding.

      Interesting to hear you are leaning more towards the introversion side these days. I am sure you still have your extroverted moments and entertain with your words and personality. Hope you are doing well 🙂

      Like

  30. Your responses are very funny. I don’t want to think of myself as talkative, more like I have a lot to say. I don’t like to talk for the sake of talking. When I don’t talk, it’s because I am thinking or processing. I’m not broken LOL. I know people who just talk non-stop. I recalled I was on a camping trip and I met my friend’s girlfriend. She’s a nice person, but she could not stop talking. She felt compelled to just talk every time there was a beat of silence. I found it to be neurotic. Like can you just breathe? That could be another comeback. But really, I thought maybe she was nervous or uncomfortable.

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    • Oh, you think my responses are funny. I take that as a compliment. Thank you so much 😊 I love that, that you don’t see yourself as talkative but have a lot to say – and are thinking out loud or sharing that.

      Yes, that is a good response, ‘Can you just breathe?’ It sounds like a funny response too, bit lighthearted for social situations. Hopefully you don’t encounter too many other people who talk at every silent moment. Thanks so much for reading, reflecting and commenting, Julie ❤

      Like

  31. Another excellent topic, Mabel. I pick, “I’m listening”. The art of listening seems to be lost in social situations- well, in most situations. Many people can’t wait to fill in the silence instead of giving the other person a moment to form a meaningful response. Or, they’re just waiting for other to stop talking so they can talk some more about themselves. 🤣

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    • That is so well said, that ‘the art of listening seems to be lost in social situations…most situations’. Chatter seems to be normal and silence treated as suspicious or wrong. Some people do like to talk about themselves. Nothing wrong with that but I do find that hilarious they can go on and on without a break 🤣 Thank you so much for reading and stopping by, Jane ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Very often dear Mabel,, Being ‘Reflective’ and thoughtful in our own quiet space… I have come across many of those situations and responses you describe.
    Like you often we don’t get a word in edgeways, so we observe and see the Ego’s busy at work jostling for attention, as to who can command attention at the highest volume..

    I enjoy my silent space, and often even when we speak.. Are we heard?? often I find people do not listen, other than to their own voices.. So I no longer interject unless I have something I feel I need to get across… And lately my own view point is alien to many, so I keep silent in my space.. 🙂
    There is far too much noise as it is in the world Mabel… So Keep being who you are.. Enjoying your own inner sanctuary of silence.

    Lovely post dear Mabel….
    Sending Silent waves of well wishes across the miles my friend ❤

    Like

    • This is so well said, Sue. It is true that many Egos are busy jostling for attention, waiting to put themselves out there and get ahead. Nothing wrong with that, but it would be a much more better place if we can all be in this together.

      You asked such a great question. When we speak, are we heard? Sometimes I feel when we speak, our effort of speaking pleases others because of the fact that we spoke up…not about what we said. The ones who matter will listen to your opinion. A silent space can be very powerful, and I know you are listening to your voice and staying true to yourself right there. Keep enjoying that inner sanctuary of silence of yours.

      Lots of love to you, Sue. Hope you are doing well and take care 😊❤

      Like

  33. Love #10. 👏🏻
    I haven’t really been asked the question much. (Not exactly quiet… 😉)
    But there are circumstances, tough business meetings, where I have been asked that. (I really like to listen well in those circumstances. Then I talk.) My answer always was: “My grandmother always told me that I have two ears and one mouth. So I should listen twice as much as I speak…)
    “Librarians”! LOL.

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    • It is considerate of you to listen in on business meetings and then pipe up – and probably with important things to say. I like that thought, listening more than talking. Sometimes it can get boring listening though…especially if people are talking about themselves.

      Librarians are important. Quietness is so, so important to so many of us. Without quietness I think I’d go crazy, but that’s just me 😊

      Like

      • Even when you chairing the meeting it is good to listen what the others have on their mind. That way you can identify common grounds and possible stumbling blocks. 😉
        Quiet and peace are some of the things I long for most lately. It seems to me the world is going crazy. (Not you). I need the isolation…
        Take care Peng Yu. 🙏🏻

        Like

        • Listening should always come first. As you said, it’s helpful in identifying common grounds and stumbling blocks, and that can lead to deeper discussions and meaningful relationships. There’s also the fine line of being too quiet and letting others lead the meeting/team to work through though.

          Agree, it’s a crazy world out there and probably about to get crazier. Hope you have your quiet space, amigo 🙏⭐

          Liked by 1 person

          • Fine lines are made to be crossed. 😉
            And listening at the beginning does help pave the way. I remember trying to set up a professional market research society here many years ago. First meetings, between competitors were almost silent. Nobody would risk giving tips to competitors. I thought: “This won’t fly.” So I put out feeders, and feeders, until I found a common unthreatening ground in the 3rd meeting… Pfff. And we built the Market research Society…
            And thank you. I am about to spend a week alone in my quiet space, an hour away from the big city… Lovely.
            (Just read your interview on Priorhouse. Very nice. 🙏🏻)

            Like

            • Ooooh, ‘fine lines are made to be crossed’. I might actually have to agree with you there. Cross the lines and see where that leads.

              Sometimes it takes a while to build common ground. Sometimes it’s just the group of people and the personalities and their interests you are with. Maybe that’s why it was challenging to work with that research group…

              Thank you for reading my interview on Prior House. Yvette was so kind to feature me. Enjoy your time away and your quiet space 🙏

              Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Pam. Quietness does disturb some people indeed. I love your response when people ask about your quietness, ‘This is just me.’ Might have to borrow that one for some time and see how that goes 🙂 Hope you are doing well x

      Liked by 1 person

      • ❤ I'm reading a book by Susan Cain called Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole (it's wonderful) but heard that her book entitled Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking is a must read for introverts, or anyone who prefers to be ….. quiet!

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        • Oooo, I see Bittersweet is Susan Cain’s recent book. Thanks so much for sharing. I’ll check it out. I really enjoyed her books on introversion, including the one you mentioned there, and Bittersweet sounds like something I’ll like. Glad you are enjoying the book, Pam ❤

          Like

  34. Hi Mabel,
    This is a well-written, thoughtful insight in the power of silence.
    I was a student at private schools. We were always being told that empty barrels
    make the most noise. I guess it was their way of saying ‘Be Quiet’. I feared being
    considered to have an empty mind so I was always as quiet as I could be.
    I was extrememly quite at home too. There were five of us. You would think it would
    be noisy. It wasn’t.
    When I began to date my husband, he always asked, “Why are you so quiet?”
    I didn’t think I was because it came natural to me. As I got older, being in the working
    world required speaking up more. I did. It was difficult at first. I must admit I am still
    shy and quiet when I first meet someone. I do participate in conversation but I’m a much
    better listener than a talker.
    Be safe ,,, Enjoy Good Health … Keep Writing … Hugs and Best regards,
    Isadora 😎

    Like

    • A very reflective, thoughtful comment from you, Isadora. Maybe your teachers who said that empty barrels make the most noise said that to keep the class as quiet as possible. I remember my teachers in Malaysia and Singapore said that to my class too when we got too noisy.

      That is great you worked on speaking up at work and at the time time recognise that you are who you are – quiet and not afraid to admit it. Being a listener is such a good thing and I am sure your friends and anyone you meet appreciate that you listen to them. Maybe you are also remembered for being a listener.

      You too enjoy good health and stay safe. Keep writing too, Isadora 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  35. Well Mabel, I’d much rather be asked the question that way vs “what’s wrong?” ?? Why is it that people think quiet is a sign of discomfort or unhappiness? I’m naturally a quiet person and I love being surrounded by quiet. People who talk a lot truly get on my nerves. Not sure how I got to be this way as I grew up in a very loud family but maybe it’s my natural defenses kicking in! Good food for thought as always.

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    • I absolutely love that, that you rather be asked ‘Why are you so quiet?’ as opposed to ‘What’s wrong?’. The second question seemed much more loaded and judgemental when you think about it. Good on you for liking quiet. It must be helpful when it’s not too noisy when you are out taking your lovely photos, Tina. hope you are doing well and take care.

      Like

  36. Hello Mabel. You just described me in these two sentences “I’m an introvert who isn’t always talkative. When I’m around others I’m usually the listener or can’t get a word in if everyone’s talking loudly.”

    This is great post. Thank you. Have a wonderful day. Matti

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  37. such great insights Mabel. I loved this and it gives lots of insights. Your points are so terrific.

    💖
    “Make no excuses for who you are. Being quiet is not a weakness. It’s often a strength in quiet disguise: perhaps you’re listening, thinking and strategising when you’re keeping quiet, or you’re protecting your energy and honouring your need for solitude.”

    I’m an ambivert.
    Happy we are now following each other and look forward to more of your posts.
    💖

    Like

    • That is great you know who you are – an ambivert, a balance of introverted and extroverted qualities. Perhaps you adapt very well to different people. Not surprised if you do. You have a really great blog that resonates with many. It is amazing. So glad I discovered your blog.

      Thank you for stopping by, Cindy. Your visit and time is much appreciated ❤

      Like

  38. Well, I’ve been quiet for a long time in life. Lately, probably abit more vocal. 😀 It just comes with time. I do tend to be an observer rather than party queen.

    Like

    • Sounds like the older you get, the more you speak up and don’t really care what others think – and at the same time, appreciate the quite moments you have. A lot of things come with time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  39. As in the quote you read on my blog, you should always be your authentic self.

    I actually have a lot to say about this one. I could see why it would perturb you to be asked that question. It feels judgmental. Sometimes my husband gets quiet when we’re out with friends, and I wonder if he’s not enjoying himself. Maybe that is what people are thinking when they ask, but it does sound like a rude question. Usually, if I’m around a quiet person, I feel like they’re being left out, so I start engaging them . . . ask them things about their lives, like their families, their hobbies. If they tell me a hobby, I ask them to tell me about it. Etc.

    As for me, I’ve never been accused of being quiet. 😏 I come from a background that is the stereotypical opposite of what you’ve described for Asians. Italians are passionate and loud . . . each one talks over the other trying to be heard. It’s funny though, I took a test to determine if I was an extrovert or an introvert, and I’m neither. Or more to the point, I landed right in the middle as a little of each. It may sound strange, but I truly do fit my astrological sign of Libra. I’ve always strived for balance in all things, including my social time and my quiet time.

    There are a couple of questions that I used to get asked all the time that annoyed me (too long to keep writing here), so I can understand. For the quiet question, I’d be tempted to ask them, “What’s it to you?” But that wouldn’t make me any new friends. 😉

    Thanks for the thought provoking post. Quiet hugs from the other side of the globe.

    Like

    • Thank you so much for such a thoughtful comment, Lori. ‘Why are you so quiet?’ really is quite a judgemental question. But at the same time, everyone perceives quietness differently. It is nice of you to try to engage with the quieter ones and make them feel included. Sometimes some quiter ones do feel left out or really are people who engage best when they are spoken to or encouraged.

      It sounds like you could be an ambivert, a cross between an extrovert and introvert, exemplifying qualities from both. I am guessing you are referring to your Sun sign which is Libra – and aside from balancing your social and quiet time, you probably also balance listening and engaging others 🙂

      Sometimes you do have to speak up and mingle with others to make friends. And it’s always wonderful to make connections. Quiet hugs to you too across the miles ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  40. Great post, Mabel. It is wonderful to hear your take on this topic for several reasons. First, being that growing up my twin sister was the outgoing type and I was not so I got use to being the quiet one. For me, it was pretty nice and I always enjoyed being able to listen and not speak… although it is funny that when I’m around people I know now I seriously have a hard time shutting up 🙂 But you are correct in saying that quietness often comes off as weird and not normal ~ but I’ve also found out it is an admirable trait as well. Those being quiet and listening are often thought of as smart and introspective… wiser than most 🙂

    You do add an interesting point, is saying that as an Asian your being quiet plays into the stereotype of Asians, and I think that must be frustrating for you. It is such an old stereotype, and is vanishing globally, but yes… it is still out there and I think it must have a different feel than someone like me (anglo-celtic) who was also quiet. One thing we do share, is that those electric conversations and discussions found in a social setting can deplete me of energy as well ~ and nothing feels better than finding a little solitude 🙂

    Wishing you a great finish to your autumn and hope you are ready for the winter – usually a very good season for solitude. Take care, my friend, and hope you continue to do well.

    Like

    • It is lovely to hear from you, Randall. ‘Why are you so quiet?’ is one of those questions you really have to ponder about. It sounded like you and your sister were like cheese and talk in terms of personalities, and you took being quiet and listening into your stride. Agree with you that qiuetness is an admirable trait, and it’s one that gets overlooked since so many are stimluated by action. Being quiet probably has helped you to listen and observe more…and we get to see that side of you through your photography and most certainly philosophical writings too 🙂

      Yes, the quiet Asian stereotype can be frustrating, and it is something that I’m conflicted with growing up Asian in Australia but have accepted. I was raised to be quieter than most but at the same time listening and reflection are traits that strongly speak to me as a person too. With electtric conversations in social settings, I think it helps when you know when to walk away and protect your energy…but that is usually easier said than done.

      Never ready for winter…but it is upon us now and it is what it is. Happy Summer, Randall. May it be a good one and enjoy the warmth. Take care my friend and you stay well.

      Like

  41. Hello Mabel. Thank you for such a wise thoughtful and reflective article. I enjoyed reading it from start to finish. So many golden nuggets. It’s a great prompt to remind us to be ourselves and that’s OK! I love the ‘I was raised by librarians’ these witty lines are pure gold!

    We are mid summer here outside London and the evenings are very light so it is great to enjoy the garden. I hope all is well with you and I am looking forward to catching up on some more of your posts.

    All good wishes Lita x

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is so kind of you to say about my post, Lita. Thank you so much. There are so many ways to respond to ‘Why are you so quiet?’. I think for those of us that are on the quieter side, it’s something we should embrace and be proud of. Lovely to hear that the weather is nice in London. Hope you enjoy many more warm days and evenings. Hope all is well with you and your art, and take care.

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  42. Hello Mabel.. not sure if my earlier comment got posted or not! Having fun logging in today!!

    I just wanted to thank you for this wise thoughtful post that gives us full permission and encouragement to be ourselves. It’s good to know that’s enough!

    Looking forward to reading more of your articles. I enjoy them from start to finish.

    Good wishes

    Lita x

    Like

    • Hello Lita. Thank you so much for taking time to stop by. It appeared to have gone to Trash and I have rescued it. Agree on your thoughts – we all should give ourselves permission and encouragement to be ourselves ❤

      Like

  43. I am quiet in terms of talking, but I write a lot! 😉 I wonder when people say anything that starts with the question, “What are you so …?” It’s asking a person why they are the way they are, and they shouldn’t have to defend that. Your suggestions for answers to the question, Mabel, can help those who are not sure quite what to say, and that’s appreciated. Being able to prepare for the question can help those who are anxious to feel more in control of that potential situation in the future. Hope you’re doing great!

    Like

    • Quiet in terms of talking, but loud in terms of writing! I like that, Christy. Very clever and very you 🙂 Yes, some people aren’t quite sure of how to answer ‘Why are you so quiet?’ and sometimes just want an answer to get the question over and done with, and move on. I’m doing alright, and hope you are doing well too, Christy.

      Like

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