Author Topic: How to ask a stranger to lower their voice?  (Read 4278 times)

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MariaE

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Re: How to ask a stranger to lower their voice?
« Reply #30 on: March 15, 2014, 05:34:02 PM »
I've had this happen a few times, and my way of handling it, if it gets unbearable, is to catch Loudy Louderston's eye, smile, and put my finger to my lips. Most of the time, they don't realize they're being loud, and are genuinely apologetic and lower the volume, and it's all handled very quickly… often with additional smiles or "have a good day!" on both of our parts when one party leaves. Only one time have I gotten a rude reaction in response.

Unless I'm in a library, that sort of reaction would probably make me keep my volume as loud, if not louder, than before. Polite? No. But that's my reaction to a stranger telling me to shush.

I hope you did not mean this - getting even louder.

As I imagine sitting close to you, already in pain from your too loud voice, but not telling anything ... and then someone else DOES try to make you aware you are too loud.

Why would you not care about all other people around you and want to make them suffer for ONE person who displeased you?

What I mean is if you ask me politely to keep my voice down, I'll do my best to control the volume. If you do the finger to the lips, shushing thing like I'm three years old, I'll most likely ignore you.

Yeah, I wouldn't get louder out of spite, but I definitely wouldn't take you seriously either.

But! I've still managed to politely ask someone to lower their voice, and thus, problem solved. We don't have to be besties, and I don't have to engage in conversation, either.  :)

I completely disagree that you've"politely asked". You've signaled in the same way that a parent would a child. That's condescending and comes across as scolding rather than asking for a favour. If you want to politely ask - use your words.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2014, 05:38:01 PM by MariaE »
 
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perpetua

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Re: How to ask a stranger to lower their voice?
« Reply #31 on: March 15, 2014, 05:46:11 PM »
I've had this happen a few times, and my way of handling it, if it gets unbearable, is to catch Loudy Louderston's eye, smile, and put my finger to my lips. Most of the time, they don't realize they're being loud, and are genuinely apologetic and lower the volume, and it's all handled very quickly… often with additional smiles or "have a good day!" on both of our parts when one party leaves. Only one time have I gotten a rude reaction in response.

Unless I'm in a library, that sort of reaction would probably make me keep my volume as loud, if not louder, than before. Polite? No. But that's my reaction to a stranger telling me to shush.

I hope you did not mean this - getting even louder.

As I imagine sitting close to you, already in pain from your too loud voice, but not telling anything ... and then someone else DOES try to make you aware you are too loud.

Why would you not care about all other people around you and want to make them suffer for ONE person who displeased you?

What I mean is if you ask me politely to keep my voice down, I'll do my best to control the volume. If you do the finger to the lips, shushing thing like I'm three years old, I'll most likely ignore you.

Yeah, I wouldn't get louder out of spite, but I definitely wouldn't take you seriously either.

But! I've still managed to politely ask someone to lower their voice, and thus, problem solved. We don't have to be besties, and I don't have to engage in conversation, either.  :)

I completely disagree that you've"politely asked". You've signaled in the same way that a parent would a child. That's condescending and comes across as scolding rather than asking for a favour. If you want to politely ask - use your words.

I see what you did there :)

I agree with you - I wouldn't be best pleased to be patronised like that either. It's very condescending. I wouldn't deliberately get louder, but I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to accommodate anyone who gestured to me like that.  If I'm being too loud, ask me to quieten down like the adult I am. If you (general) speak/gesture to me like a child, you run the risk of me acting like one in return.

LETitbe

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Re: How to ask a stranger to lower their voice?
« Reply #32 on: March 15, 2014, 06:59:02 PM »
But! I've still managed to politely ask someone to lower their voice, and thus, problem solved. We don't have to be besties, and I don't have to engage in conversation, either.  :)

The issue is that I wouldn't feel like you were politely asking (in fact, by your own admission, you don't ask at all), I'd feel like you were being condescending. Saying " Would you mind lowering your voice?" is not engaging in conversation- it's just making a polite request without treating them like a child. I don't think shushing is considered a polite gesture in our society, unless it's from a parent to a child.

TootsNYC

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Re: How to ask a stranger to lower their voice?
« Reply #33 on: March 15, 2014, 11:02:00 PM »
I often find myself louder than I meant to be.

If it were accompanied by a friendly smile (and if that were the extent of the exchange--if the person went immediately back to whatever they were doing), I would absolutely not take offense at a finger-to-the-lips gesture. It's the only universal nonverbal signal I can think of for "be quiet."

Nonverbal communication is legitimate communication.

The friendly smile would take it right out of scolding and into reminding/alerting. It would be far less embarrassing to me, actually, than having someone use their words--which would alert every other person around to the exchange.

Then I probably would feel publicly shamed.

bloo

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Re: How to ask a stranger to lower their voice?
« Reply #34 on: March 16, 2014, 12:23:25 AM »
This is a very difficult question for me to answer.  While I think it is totally appropriate to ask, in essence, someone to keep it down, I struggle with this for a few reasons.  One of them being that I have a very loud laugh.  I try to stifle it at times, especially in public, but sometimes it overcomes me and I seriously cannot help it.  Another issue is that my mother is unreasonably loud at times, and despite many family members trying to, in private, let her know she gets too loud, she argues that she is not being loud at all.  She becomes very defensive if you even mention that she was a tad loud and might have been embarrassing, and then she does absolutely nothing to fix it in the future.  I have even tried to explain that she makes everyone around her uncomfortable, but she insists that she has done nothing wrong.

I think, in some aspects, you risk either embarrassing someone (me) or putting them on the defensive (my mom) when you ask them to keep it down, especially because someone's loud may be another person's reasonable tone (and that isn't even considering either my mother or me).  I think in public places that are bound to get a little loud, ie a train station, a cafe, or a restaurant, it may be inappropriate to directly ask someone to keep it down.  In public places that are expected to be quiet, ie a church or library, I do not think it is inappropriate.  In the loud places, I think the only thing you can do, really, is speak to the people who work there.

ITA.

I, too, have a loud laugh that can come out explosively when I think something's funny (and I can see humor in just about everything). Through training and voice modulation I've rarely been told, as an adult, that I'm speaking too loud, but my laugh is spontaneous and I live in an area of quiet talkers and reserved laughers. So I've been told on more than one occasion 'indoor voice, bloo' when I'm laughing...even in my own home (by a guest). I've felt condescended to but it wasn't worth an argument and I'd prefer not to make already uncomfortable people even more uncomfortable (friends anyways).

I've been told by many a local, "I just love your laugh," which can mean anything from, 'I love your laugh,' to 'You laugh too much and too loud, do shut up please,' depending on tone. I asked DH awhile ago if I should try harder to stifle my laugh since even speaking with enthusiasm is rare in my parts, much less laughter and he said, 'no, they need to be shook up by different personalities,' which I really appreciated. Not to say he won't signal me when I'm too loud, just that he doesn't want me to stifle my personality.

poundcake

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Re: How to ask a stranger to lower their voice?
« Reply #35 on: March 16, 2014, 07:49:55 AM »
Quote
I often find myself louder than I meant to be.

If it were accompanied by a friendly smile (and if that were the extent of the exchange--if the person went immediately back to whatever they were doing), I would absolutely not take offense at a finger-to-the-lips gesture. It's the only universal nonverbal signal I can think of for "be quiet."

Nonverbal communication is legitimate communication.

Indeed. If I'm halfway across a cafe, it's easier (and just as polite) to catch Loudy's eye, smile, and make a non-offensive universal gesture that lets them know to lower the volume instead of leaving my work and computer unguarded, and going over and engaging in more conversation than I want to. (To be clear, I'm not glaring, I'm not making a "shhhhh!" sound, and my smile is more of a "I know you're having fun but probably didn't realize how loud you are" versus a "Dear, you're bothering me" patronizing thing.)

The difference is intent. Both verbally asking and nonverbally asking can be done rudely, or politely. However, I can't control that every person who I ask to lower their voice isn't going to be offended, no matter how I ask. I try to do so as nicely as possible, with every indication that I understand it's nothing personal or critical. Thus, "etiquette" has helped ME navigate a social situation as politely as possible. That's the point. There is always someone who will be all huffy and butthurt that you ask them for anything reasonable: not to cut in line, to lower their voice, to not touch your pregnant belly.  And really, in the case of the cell phone talkers in the library, I really don't care if they feel chastised!
« Last Edit: March 16, 2014, 07:55:44 AM by poundcake »