I was the de facto leader. I was getting ahead in life quite early. My loudspeaker of a voice helped me win debates, quizzes and generally all kinds of “noisy” competitions, got me noticed and very soon, almost everybody knew whom I was.
People liked me for my boisterousness. My loudness was perceived as courage back then. I was in high school then. Head of the Quiz Club. My loudness and propensity to speak my mind gave me a lot of opportunities, which a lot of my
“quieter” counterparts never got. You can obviously make out that I am unabashedly proud of that fact.
Ironically, I am inherently an introverted creature. But I have learned something while working few months in corporate world of work, which basically prompted me to write down this.
A colleague of mine was taking feedback about our team from a customer, now, I was on excellent terms with this gentleman and we often cracked jokes and said borderline inappropriate things to each other in jest. I was pretty sure I’d get an excellent feedback. I expected to be called sarcastic but when he called me loud, the connotation wasn’t in the least positive. I was frankly very taken aback.
After he said that, I saw a lot of my other colleagues concur. That was when I decided to put things in perspective. I have always been a loudmouth and I would probably always be so. But at the work place, much unlike school and among my friends, I am not getting ahead. People actually shirked away than talk to me because they “could not handle me”. I never intended to intimidate
anyone (Maybe some, but then that’s a completely different approach
altogether!). I was “subtly” asked to tone it down. I realized that I was being perceived as noisy, no fizz, so starkly contrasted from
what I have been seen as all my life.
On the other hand of the spectrum, the one who got the most positive review was the guy who never spoke until it was absolutely necessary. I considered just muting off my larynx. I could see the advantages of being quiet. But soon, I was suffocating. So I am not advocating a 180-degree turnaround. I know how effective being a loudmouth has been in my life. My outspoken nurture helped me to effectively market myself, sometimes unconsciously even. People knew about me by word of mouth (no pun intended!).
Because I was always heard, I have helped fight a lot of issues, for myself and others; some which I count amidst my greatest achievements. I get great deals too! But as I write this, I realize that when you are a loudmouth, sometimes you can shoot off it. I needed to curb that. I realized that I was coming off as opinionated and rude, instead of pro-issue and matter-of-fact.
If you want to get ahead in your life, tact and actions will always speak louder than words. Whether you are a loudmouth or a quiet mouse, you have to back up your words, many or few; with deeds. Successful people are those that are the problem-solvers, not the “occupy”-ers. They are the ones who quietly succeed without “public announcements.”
I remember in my first job interview, in a financial institution, I was asked if I was a loudmouthed person. Without answering I went ahead and talked more than expected. I got the job anyway. As time went on, I learnt to be quiet. I learnt to listen more and talk less.
I may not be able to join the masses who check out of the university by posting pictures of themselves with their travellers in front of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) entrance/exit. Nope, the man wouldn’t allow. This piece is my checking out signature. It’s a “fictional reality…”
In the field of work (except for jobs that demands loudness), learn to listen more and do more as you talk less. That’ll get you ahead in life.
Esi D. Aidoo
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