How to Emulate the Quality of ‘Quiet Strength’

“It took strength to be quiet. It took strength to be kind. It took strength to let other people’s cruelty bounce right off of you.”

— April Genevieve Tucholke

“Never assume that loud is strong, and quiet is weak”.
“Inner stillness is the key to outer strength”.
— Jared Brock

I was told once that I had a ‘quiet strength’ that was very attractive and admirable. I knew it was a compliment, but wasn’t entirely sure what ‘quiet strength’ actually meant at the time. So I proceeded to ask around to find out what this person meant by that. The conclusion I drew suggests that it presents differently in individuals and can be observed in a variety of traits and behaviors. One of the most compelling explanations is that those who possess quiet strength, are those who ‘let your conduct inspire the weak to be strong’. This would suggest that strengths are seen in the way an individual carries him/herself.

Attributes that Demonstrate ‘Quiet Strength’

Behavior with manners and class. Good etiquette really sets people apart and brings positive attention to an individual. Think about it. We often focus on the person who didn’t smile back or didn’t hold the door for the person behind them, or the person on the road who was rude and inconsiderate to other drivers. We expect politeness and manners but so often nowadays, we don’t receive respect from others. If we start noticing and focusing on respectful behaviors and presence of manners, more power is given to those individuals instead of the others who exert negative interactions on others. I would rather be the one who smiled, than the one who didn’t smile back.

Grace towards self and others. ‘Giving grace’ means giving others a chance, time, the ability to make mistakes without punishment, and forgiveness. This is so incredibly important. It is ok to have negative emotions towards others or to be upset when another has wronged you, but certain expressions of emotions are not ok. By giving grace, you resolve some of the affect the situation or behavior had on you, and also allows you to focus on it less. For example, if someone yells, swears, is angry with you, or accuses you of something, instead of engaging with that individual on the same level, giving grace would mean you remain calm and either let them be angry and communicate when they are in a better spot to do so or try to understand the emotion. Giving grace doesn’t mean you automatically give in or forgive instantly or relinquish any boundaries or respect you are entitled to as a human being, it just means you are not reacting the way the other person is because you are in control of yourself and your emotions while taking accountability for a role you may have played in the conflict. Another way to view ‘giving grace’ is acting with goodwill towards all regardless of how you have been received.

Practicing humility by listening more than you speak. Not presenting as if there is nothing to be learned or falsely assuming you are the expert and no one can make any meaningful contributions to potentially lead to a change in your knowledge or beliefs. Active listening and not just listening to respond while accepting that you don’t know everything. I had an individual in my life last year who was a good listener, the problem was he was so good that he could also invent a narrative that he wanted to hear from a conversation, sometimes expanding on it without my input. This is very frustrating because it takes away an individual’s self determination, or to make decisions for themselves and to express their truth. Stay in the moment, stay in the conversation, and actually hear what the other person is saying without having to interject yourself into their truth.

Act with kindness. Kindness goes a long way. For me personally, I try my very best to react with love and kindness even when faced with rage or negative interactions. Sometimes it diffuses the situation, mostly it just doesn’t make it worse or escalate it. Recently, a person who is no longer in my life had sent me a very hateful email then months later a sad, disturbing, and accusatory email. The first email, I waited until I felt I had collected myself enough to provide a quality response, then I sent a firm but respectful reply. The second email, I responded with compassion and kindness. The individual did briefly reply and thanked me for the kind response. We have not communicated since, but I do feel the expression of kindness did a lot more good than being defensive, argumentative, or insultingly denying his reality would have been. Kindness goes a long way. Even if you are not feeling so kind, and being hateful is a lot easier, remaining kind will produce less regret at your ‘in the heat of the moment’ reaction, gain respect from others, and hopefully a quicker and more peaceful resolution. There are many ways to respond with kindness while maintaining any boundaries in place and respect for yourself.

Motivate and Build Up Others. Your competition in this life is yourself. Strive to be better than you were yesterday. Support and encourage others around you to do the same. A person with ‘quiet strength’ does not bully or degrade others, this individual makes sure others feel valued and have worth. Cheer on others with the same goals as you while doing the work to improve yourself. There is nothing wrong with rallying others that you could view as competition, to be better with you. This will only make your own personal growth, lessons, and achievements more meaningful because it will compel you to be the best you can be. If one of those people ends up getting the opportunity over you, take the time to reflect on what qualities or strengths they may have showed that you need to improve to be successful on your next endeavor. There is always a lesson to be learned, no matter what the outcome, but others will view you more favorably and positively if you demonstrate support in a common goal, rather than an adversarial encounter.

Bystander Intervention. Have the confidence to intervene if you observe someone being treated poorly. This does not mean engage in a way that puts you in an unsafe situation where you would be at risk of unnecessary harm. Bystander Intervention means if you witness someone bullying, abusing, or harassing another human being, you tell the abuser or bully that what they are doing is wrong. Speak up. Being victimized often involves taking away a person’s voice or scaring the person into not standing up for themself. Without a doubt, if the roles were reversed, most people would want someone to stand up for them. I cannot even count how many times I see news about victims of bullying who express suicidal ideations, attempt, or complete suicide because they were publicly bullied or abused, and no one spoke up that it was wrong. As human beings, we internalize that kind of behavior to translate into we aren’t worthy of respect, or we deserve that treatment, or we are worthless, and no one cares. You don’t have to be the strongest, most aggressive person in the room to change an outcome, you just have to be the one person willing to use your voice in the defense of another. Choose to make the statement that you care and the abuser’s behavior is wrong. You could be the only one who does. You could save a life.

Be a safe space. Lastly, through your behavior and interactions, create a safe space that allows others to feel protected, accepted, and cared for in your presence. Opening up to someone about what you’re going through is hard. It may be hard for you to hear; it could upset or trigger you. Listening without judgement and sitting with others in their worst moments is so important. You don’t have to have a particular certification or skill set to just be a friend. You don’t have to fix or rescue the person, and often you won’t be able to and that’s not your purpose, but you will make a difference by making another human being feel seen, heard, and cared for in a moment when they desperately need to not feel alone in the world. Be that person.

Quiet Strength is, in its essence, leading others with your heart and having the courage to let your heart and goodness guide you.

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