Silence needs Noise

“Work hard in silence, let your success be your noise.” – Frank Ocean

Going by the divide of extroverts and introverts, many live by these words daily or would have at some point in their lives. You may or may not know how the world seems through the eyes of a quiet person, but in the race to the top, many introverts turn into pseudo extroverts, many suffer from anxiety from cognitive dissonance, and many others have embraced the fake-it-till-you-make-it approach.

A confident charmer, who can enchant anyone in the room with their perfect vocal modulations and well-crafted storyline with an impeccable instrument of oration - the person who can sell anything in a matter of few words seems to possess a supernatural power. This person may or may not be a smart worker, gaining just enough concepts to impress, or has the deepest knowledge of his area – the fact that he’s able to sell, matters to the world. In classrooms or in meetings, it’s generally the loudest one who gets heard the most, not necessarily the right ones.

You can work as hard as you want in silence, but if you don’t make a noise, there won’t be any.

We all know that squeaky class heads (or class monitors) back in school. They were the favourites – be it their friend circle, among the teachers or other students’ parents. The (apparently not so raucous) behaviour of bossing around, mostly in an obnoxiously loud voice and a perfectly poised demeanour made them adorable. But schools are different, in a way that scores can speak for the student’s performance. But when it comes to arenas of adulthood, there are no grades. Sure there are jobs well suited for an introverted person and bosses who could recognize and appreciate great efforts of a not-so-noisy employee, in my opinion a lot depends on what this person is stacked against.

I was once observing a project end review of an intern. We had worked closely for about two months, and I can say for sure that he was a smart worker. He got along with almost everyone with his confident and warm charisma. He did some amazing work and his boss was impressed as well. A day before the review, while showing his presentation to me, I came to know about a “challenge” that he needed to complete to secure himself a permanent job – a pitch to sell himself.

To this day, I find this idea absurd. Why should a person pitch for himself if he’s there, presenting all of his work to a group of people to convince he did a wonderful job? Isn’t that the pitch itself? The intern felt the same way and went ahead saying some few plain words as to why he should be hired. This was followed by a great presentation summary of his project.

For me, everything made sense – this was just the type of person who could work very well and yet be humble enough to not boast around. But the panel (well, at least few on the panel) felt otherwise. If the pitch isn’t enthusiastic enough, the candidate is “not interested” for a permanent role. It doesn’t matter how good his work was, how strong his connections were, how perfect his personality was for the role. It all came down to just one thing – two minutes of sell-out talk to get a regret letter.

Though I know a lot of people around me who would have (and have) enthusiastically pitched because they were actually great at their work and wanted to role badly, I also know a few who only pitched. And that’s exactly how the noisier keeps making enough noise to subdue the silent ones.

In the book, “Quiet” by Susan Cain, the entire topic of introversion has been covered with its practical implications. One of the biggest strengths of introverts is the amount of preparation they do in silence, she writes. But should it stop one to press on the points he or she stands for? No, it doesn’t. She illustrates how, even the quietest of people, need to practice extroversion at times. It’s in the light of things we do with love and passion that noise is important.

When we think about success, there’s always an entity who would acknowledge the good work and makes it a success. This entity is never going to conjure someone’s talent out of thin air. Even though silent people have their own ways of working, a lot of “noisy” people can take away opportunities by just acting smart. There will be the ones who would knowingly or not, take credit of else’s work. There will be people who would stomp on others’ ideas, consider them “weak” and “disinterested”.

However uncomforting it must feel to such a person, silence and noise are two sides of the same coin; it’s only a matter of acceptance of the other side that makes our efforts, ideas and beliefs complete.

I honestly do not know where the distinction mark lies between silence and noise, but I know for sure that we can keep working hard in silence, but we need to make noise.

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