How to Live a Bold Life Without Being Loud

by Tess

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This is a guest post from Stuart Mills.

"Remember that life is short and death is long." – Fritz Shoulder

Some people associate being bold with being loud, extroverted, and outgoing, and that if we don’t have any of these qualities then we aren’t confident within ourselves.


If you are one of those who believe this, then I have something to share with you – you don’t have to be any of these things to be bold.

Loud Is Not Bold

You don’t have to shout out how bold you are in order to get others to think that you are bold. And you don’t have to spend all your time trying to impress others with your willingness to do anything. Being bold doesn’t work like that.

In order to be bold, it has to come from a different place. It has to come from our strong sense of self-belief, and a view that we don’t have to impress anyone in order to love ourselves.

Being loud is different from this – as we believe being loud shows confidence, we try and dominate conversations with our friends, family, and even our co-workers. We try to ensure we socialise every evening, and we try and achieve more and more so that we impress everyone who could possibly get the chance to view us and what we do. The motto becomes, “If you haven’t got anything to show off, then you haven’t got anything.”

But being bold can, and often is, different from being loud. Boldness comes from a strong self-belief that we can overcome any limits, and that we can choose to live our lives regardless of what anyone else says. Loudness comes from a limited self-belief that we must put on a front and try to impress everyone with our wit and dominant socialising.

The two characteristics are not the same. Allow me to use myself as an example.

Being Bold And Quiet

Around 8-9 years ago, I used to think that in order to be seen as likeable, confident, and a ‘great guy’, you had to speak with a loud voice. I thought that you had to be outgoing, willing to do anything to keep up with the crowd, and take part in whatever seemed ‘cool’ at the time. I honestly believed that if I didn’t do any of this, then I would view myself as a ‘failure’, and I would have let people down. That’s how much I associated being bold with being loud at the time.

I can’t remember the time when I changed my way of thinking, but as I got older and I began to have more experiences in life, I began to encounter people who were quiet on the outside, but possessed a confidence within them that was as strong as iron. They would barely speak up in group situations, but they didn’t appear nervous or scared in the slightest. And when they did speak, they spoke with an elegance and sense of calm that ‘made’ you stop and listen to them. I realised that, although these people didn’t speak nearly as much as others who would talk as if their life depended on it, they were listened to far more.

The more I encountered these people, the more they started to have an effect on my thinking. I began to realise that there was an alternative way to be bold, a way that didn’t involve a constant pressure to speak or to be heard. This way involved being calm, being confident within oneself, and being ready to be loud only when needed.

I knew that this ‘other’ way was more appealing to me – I could do what I wanted and not let everyone know about it. I could live my life by my own rules, and not feel that I had to conform to anyone else.

Little by little, I changed my way of living to fit this new way. I began to experience less pressure when I reminded myself that I can speak when I had something useful to say. I began to experience more inner peace when I told myself that I was being bold in being quiet. And finally, I began to feel bold when I did something that I knew was right for me, even when, and especially when, no-one else thought it was right.

Today, I know a lot more about life and the world, and my outlook of myself has changed. No longer am I loud for the sake of it. I will be the first to admit that I am softly spoken (and perfectly OK with it), and that I prefer spending time alone or with loved ones rather than with the crowd, doing what the crowd wants.

Yet, I view myself as bold. If you ask anyone that knows me quite well, they will say that I am bold. I may not appear bold to outsiders, but that is just an illusion created by the same belief that I had 8-9 years ago. I know deep down inside that I am a bold individual, despite my quietness and my apparent introversion.

Now, I wouldn’t share all this with you if I didn’t believe that you could benefit from it.

How To Be Quietly Bold

There are 3 ways that I’ve picked out from my experiences that will help you become bold without resorting to being loud.

·         Listen To What Others Say

There are plenty of people in this world who either love to talk, or feel that they have to talk. If you enter into a conversation with such a person, let them talk. Listen to them and give them the satisfaction that they crave. Resist talking too much yourself in case you interrupt them. By allowing the other person to talk as much as they want, you gain a double benefit – you value them as an individual, and you get to hear what they have to say. It may be valuable.

·         Pick Out The Useful Bits And Chuck The Rest

On that note, it’s important to realise that not all of what people say is useful. Some of it is completely irrelevant to you, and some of it can be harmful. For example, letting someone criticise you is good for them to feel that they’ve been heard, but it could be bad for you if you take the criticism personally. It may reduce your self-belief.

To combat this, listen carefully to what the other is saying. Pick out that which is useful or helpful to you in some way. This may be something that you did wrong, or some way in which you can improve. Take the core advice from the message, and dismiss the rest. Dismiss all the venom and trash that the other may be verbally throwing at you. You only need the main piece of advice, so why bother with the rest? Sort the diamond from the rough, and close the conversation as soon as possible.

·         Be Loud Only When You Have To

As previously mentioned, I encountered some people who would speak up only when they felt it was necessary, and kept quiet otherwise. This inner resolve that they displayed meant that they weren’t completely silent – they could be loud if they thought it had to be done.

Speak up when you feel you absolutely have to. If it’s your turn to speak in a meeting, take your turn and be loud, but without shouting. Be loud so that people hear you and understand you, but no more. If you reserve your shows of boldness for times when it’s necessary, others will realise this and come to respect you more.

Remember that to be bold doesn’t mean you have to be loud – boldness is born within, and stays within. 

Stuart Mills is a personal development enthusiast who wants to help you unlock your potential so you can help yourself. You can find him at Unlock The Door where he makes his virtual home, and at Twitter.

photo by Evgeni Dinev

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    { 19 comments… read them below or add one }

    Caitlin Durkin January 18, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    This a great post for the fact that many people do confuse boldness for loud in-your-face confidence. I agree that those who are loud sometimes are simply being loud to be heard, to feel like they are on top of the game. But a quieter demeanor is just as strong, if not more so, because the quieter person can listen more. Being bold is about making your life what you want it to be–for your sake, not for anyone else’s, so who cares who hears it by you blabbing and being noisy? That becomes obnoxious. Show them instead. Live it.


    Stuart January 19, 2012 at 7:45 am

    Hi Caitlin,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I do appreciate it! You’re right, being bold is about living life for each of us alone, and not for anyone else. Not even those that we love dear.

    We only have control over one life, so to not use this control would be foolish.

    Take care :-)
    Stuart´s last post…Why It Must Hurt Before Anything Else Happens


    Angela Artemis/Poweredbyintuition January 18, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Hi Tess & Stuart,
    Great post & great image too!
    I never thought of it but you’re so right I think people do confuse being loud and having a “look at me” attitude with being bold. Boldness is a inner strength that comes from within. You can be shy and reserved and still be bold.
    Angela Artemis/Poweredbyintuition´s last post…7 Tips to Finding Your Breakthrough Idea


    Stuart January 19, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Hi Angela,

    A lot of people confuse being loud with being bold, which was the primary motivation to write this post. I wanted to show that being bold was about living true to yourself, rather than how loud you were!

    I hope I managed to clarify things for others :-)
    Stuart´s last post…Why It Must Hurt Before Anything Else Happens


    Bryan Thompson January 18, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Great post, Stu. I love this: “You don’t have to shout out how bold you are in order to get others to think that you are bold.”

    In Wallace Wattles’ “The Science of Getting Rich,” he talks about giving the impression of increase to everyone you encounter. Putting the thought of increase into every interaction, but words are not necessary to do this. They will feel it when in your presence. (paraphrased.) :)
    Bryan Thompson´s last post…Have You Kept Your Resolution? Here are 4 Ways to Create Lasting Change


    Stuart January 19, 2012 at 8:02 am

    Hi Bryan,

    Glad you liked the post! I haven’t heard of Wattles’ book before, but it sounds interesting. Not encountered a theory like the one you mentioned either, but I might try it out.

    Thanks for sharing my friend :-)
    Stuart´s last post…Why It Must Hurt Before Anything Else Happens


    Sandra / Always Well Within January 18, 2012 at 11:13 pm


    I love every single word you have said here. This too is precisely how I would like to be! I appreciate your recommendation to start with listening! There’s nothing quite like quiet confidence.
    Sandra / Always Well Within´s last post…Love or Fear: Which Will It Be?


    Stuart January 19, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Hi Sandra,

    Quiet confidence certainly helps those who aren’t naturally loud, like me. Once I acquired some inner confidence, I knew that there was no longer any need to be loud. Being ‘me’ was enough :-)
    Stuart´s last post…Why It Must Hurt Before Anything Else Happens


    Cheryl Paris January 19, 2012 at 3:05 am

    Hi Stuart
    Great post and so true. Shy and reserved people are so misunderstood and are often stronger inside than those that shout loudest.
    Bye for now,


    Stuart January 19, 2012 at 8:14 am

    Hi Cheryl,

    I’m finding that statement more and more true each week! The quieter people are more likely to have a steely resolve than the louder people.

    Thanks for commenting :-)
    Stuart´s last post…Why It Must Hurt Before Anything Else Happens


    Brigid | The Inspired Notebook January 19, 2012 at 3:14 am

    Hi Stu (& Tess),
    I can really relate to the idea that loudness and boldness are two completely different things. As I read this post, I was really aware that on those occasions that I may get a bit ‘loud’ and speak without thinking in social situations, it’s always because I feel awkward or lacking confidence.
    Then there are the occasions where I’ve spoken out boldly about something – and it’s been quite terrifying!!
    Very timely that I just read this from Jimmy Wales: Great examples of boldness there!


    Stuart January 19, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Hi Brigid,

    Those are some interesting observations – I’ve found the same when I have been threatened. I will speak up only when I feel I have to, but that is born out of insecurity rather than an inner confidence.

    Jimmy Wales and his team have shown an inner boldness that symbolises my message with the Wikipedia blackout – if only it had happened earlier, I would have mentioned it in this post! ;-)

    Thanks for stopping by Brigid :-)
    Stuart´s last post…Why It Must Hurt Before Anything Else Happens


    Cara January 19, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Thank you! I was asked last night what I would determine as sexy and the first thing that popped into my head was “quiet power”. It is a confidence that is based on being present and knowing when to comment and more importantly, when NOT to say anything at all.
    I look forward to reading more of your posts!
    Cara´s last post…Leaving the Comfort Zone


    Jt Clough | Big Island Dog January 19, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Lovely. I couldn’t agree more.

    One of the things I do in life is train dogs. For the most part this means training people to communicate with their dogs.

    Loud never works.

    Even the natural dog pack, the leader is not loud. When I get people to take the chatter out of trying to get their dog to do something and instead practice creating the picture you have in your mind; it works.

    I find that when I work with people on their habits, the same formula works incredibly well!

    Mahalo for your thoughts in this post.
    Jt Clough | Big Island Dog´s last post…Fear of Failure, Joyfear & The Dog


    Cathy | Treatment Talk January 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Hi Stuart,

    Your post makes so much sense. Some personalities are loved by society because they are outgoing and chatty. Others, like myself tend to be more on the quiet side, although when I have something to say, you will hear me.

    I could relate to how you made the effort to be likeable by being loud. When I was in high school my nickname was “mouth,” which seems so strange now. Many people go through that phase of trying to find themselves and change their personalities to fit in. There is much strength in quiet confidence.
    Cathy | Treatment Talk´s last post…How to Find Your Way Through Fear


    Megan Bord January 19, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this, and it resonated with me quite a bit. Like you, I’ve found that being bold doesn’t have to mean being loud, nor does it mean announcing oneself as “bold.” On the contrary, I tend to find that people who labels themselves as something are usually the exact opposite of what they say they are (or what they hope people will see them as). I prefer to let people’s actions define them. We are what we repeatedly do, isn’t that how the saying goes?

    In any case, excellent post!


    Betsy at Zen Mama January 19, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    I so agree Tess! I am a big talker. And I love to talk and have great conversations…what my mom called “singing harmony”. But not everyone likes to “sing harmony”. They call it interruptions. I’ve learned to listen better and not talk or interrupt so much (although my husband might disagree!) It’s like this quote by Epictetus, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
    Betsy at Zen Mama´s last post…10 Ways To Challenge Yourself Today!


    Find Your Harmony January 19, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Thanks for having Stuart. I really enjoyed this post and it was good to hear the difference between BOLD and LOUD!

    I too, have learned that life is much more productive, harmonious, and beneficial when I listen more, talk less, and really pay attention to what I can learn from others!

    Thanks for always having a learning lesson here on your site, Tess. Just love everything I read!
    In Harmony,
    Find Your Harmony´s last post…Find Your HARMONY in 2012


    Rose Byrd January 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Tess, I am so extremely grateful you hosted Stuart’s post here today. His words
    “In order to be bold, it has to come from a different place. It has to come from our strong sense of self-belief, and a view that we don’t have to impress anyone in order to love ourselves.” are working a transformation within my heart right now. This gives me encouragement to stay on the track I discerned was right for me back in late September, when I started writing again every day, starting my own blog then, as well. Staying quiet, intently observing, learning, speaking up only when it is required: these are my communication mantras these days. I sometimes allow my old “buttons” of insecurity to be pushed and get loud, but it is happening a lot less often. Bless you for this wonderful inspiration hosted here today.
    Rose Byrd´s last post…MEETING THE FOUR HORSES


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