Speak or be silent – let’s change the unwritten rules

Highly sensitive, introvert communication


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Text: Ilse Sand. Design: courage-design.dk

This new guide is not meant to be a specific instruction. It will probably not be practical in all circumstances – the intention is to call into question the unwritten rules we already live by.

The unwritten rules most people respect go something like this:

  1. You may not interrupt the person who is speaking.
  1. The person who is quickest to express himself or herself and can hold the floor without taking a break the longest may dominate everything.

We have lived in the talker’s paradise long enough. It’s time to change the rules. Here is a suggestion for some new rules, which are inspired by the old Danish saying: Speech is silver, silence is gold.

New guide to good manners

  1. You may not interrupt a silence unless you have something important to say. And even though it may be important, you may not begin to speak before the listener has given you the green light.
  1. If you have spoken without interruption for more than a minute, you must take a break. Take a deep breath and think about how relevant what you are saying is for the person(s) to whom you are speaking. If no one encourages you to continue, you should keep quiet and allow others a chance to say what is on their mind.
  1. You may not interrupt people who are lost in their own thoughts.
  1. If someone asks whether he or she may say something to you, you must give yourself time to determine whether you want to listen to this person – and whether the time is right. If not, you may just shake your head. You do not need to apologize or explain.

Being together without words is full of meaning

Many highly sensitive or introverted people relax when they are with animals because animals do not speak.

When you are together with people who are talking, your attention is often focussed entirely on their words, and you can easily overlook everything else that is going on with them. Directing your attention, for example, to eye contact without words can be a source of good feelings – of intimacy, togetherness, and emotional balance.

Sincerely, Ilse sand, Author of the international bestseller: Highly Sensitive People in an Insensitive World: How to Create a Happy Life


The Dalai Lama — ‘When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.’

One thought on “Speak or be silent – let’s change the unwritten rules


“You do not need to apologize or explain.”

Yes! While educating the yapping masses about introversion and introspection is a noble ideal, for the most part I have found that they learn nothing and will never understand. Live in your space the way that’s comfortable for you. Don’t apologize. You are under no obligation to explain your behavior. The hyper-socials’ never explain theirs.

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