Advice & Resources, Autism Insights, My Journey

“Speak-Up Please” and Other Soft Spoken Requests

First off, let me mention to those who may also be soft spoken that there is nothing wrong with being quiet or softer spoken, in fact the world would indeed be a much noisier place if everyone was unafraid to speak up or didn’t have in it those of us who speak up when we feel we can be heard and lend our ears as much as we lend our voices. As an introvert I stand by this thought, but have come to recognize that sometimes I do struggle to get my words out clearly, and get the common request (as an introvert often speaking a little louder to be heard) “can you speak a little clearer” or “louder” or “say that again” all phrased as other versions of “pardon.” I remember many a time growing up where I’d be encouraged to enunciate my words, and often got teased about being “so soft spoken” in high-school and even some of my peers asked one time “why is she so quiet” to the teachers in the classroom.

The response to this and other kinds of similar requests I never quite knew how to answer, how does one justify her nature or soft spoken ness to others, usually those not introverted, even began to understand that while she can (and always has) understand herself quite clearly, others can have a hard time hearing it that way? I suppose a good place to start is in this blogpost, as I attempt to explain what the experience is like for me and how those requests can be strange at times.

What I’d Like Others to Understand about my Experience and How I Improve my Ability to Speak Up:

When it’s come to recognize how my experience may differ from others; it’s taken time (as it has with many of these types of experiences) to come realize that there’s more to it than meets the eye or mouth in this case. There’s my nature- quiet, introverted personality, my own self-awareness and self-consciousness about what I want to say unscripted, but then there’s this theory. The one that is recently new, but upon reflecting makes the most sense is that often in these instances my brain’s train of thought is a good two or three ahead of what I am currently trying to articulate, because when it comes to my own ideas it works a wee bit faster than it does in processing other ideas. So when it comes to speaking up, or sharing my thoughts I often am having to retrace my steps and literally re-think what it is I wanted to say in the first place. It’s here you may notice me trail off mid sentence and then circle back to repeat what I said.

Sometimes, it because there’s a lot going on inside my mind and am working to pin at least one thought down. Other times, when the “speak up” request comes when I am feeling tired, having trouble processing things or over-stimulated and can’t quite put my words out as clearly as if I were well-rested, in a quiet space or less stimulated. In these sorts of instances it’s more like a “any sort of response we give is good enough” -for my brain and me-and if we are heard, we’re heard. *Note: This is an important hint that I am in need of rest or at least a reprieve from whatever the situation may be.  

I will say that where and when it’s important to speak up and enunciate clearly; like in any public speaking opportunity or open mic nights where I’ve had to read my work extra out loud; I am very much aware of the importance of enunciating in these situations. I know that part of the experience is speaking clearly and concisely, so I practice that before hand and choose to use these opportunities to practice raising my voice just to ensure that I can. Which in practicing in these special circumstances I’ve learned that despite others experiences I am capable of speaking up when it matters most, and understand that as an introvert who thinks before she speaks there may be those opportunities where the response is ready, but the moment in the conversation has passed so in those cases the response is more to myself (the only one who may be still listening at that point) as a way to finish the thought completely and be able to carry on.

Stay You My Friends, Loud and Clear,

Kylie