Can You Hear Me Now? No, Here’s Why

Jerry in a puffy shirt because he could not hear a low talker

Low talkers not only hurt themselves, they can create fashion victims

In a famous Seinfeld episode, Jerry and Elaine are having dinner with Kramer’s girlfriend who is a “low talker” – she speaks at such a low volume that it’s impossible to hear what she is saying.  Jerry can only ask her so many times to repeat herself, so he ends up just nodding at everything she says. By the end of dinner, he finds out that he has agreed to wear one of her clothing designs, a Puffy Shirt, on the Today show.

Are you a low talker?

No one thinks they lack a sense of humor, have just average intelligence, or are a low talker.  So if you speak softly, you probably aren’t aware of it.  Because quieter speakers can hear other people, they think everything is fine.  In fact, they believe, if there’s any problem at all, it’s that some people speak too LOUDLY. 

What’s wrong with talking softly?

  1. People will only request, “Could you repeat that?” so many times before giving up on listening to you
  2. With everyone multitasking in meetings, no one will even pick up on your non-verbal cues
  3. On conference calls people will talk over you not realizing that you were speaking
  4. When introducing yourself to a group, what people will remember about you is not your name (they couldn’t hear it) but that you’re the person who mumbled and had to be continually prodded to speak up
  5. People will interpret your lack of participation with lack of interest

How to encourage others to speak up

It is important to understand that low talkers are unaware of just how softly they talk.  They are usually shy and hate having attention drawn to them, especially about how shy they are. If you’re with a soft spoken communicator,  here’s what you can do to help:

  1. Blame the environment.  Explain that the restaurant, meeting room, phone equipment has made it difficult to hear
  2. Arrange to speak one-on-one whenever possible
  3. Speak more softly yourself

How to be heard

  1. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel about speaking up, so rehearse how you are going to introduce yourself and bring up your ideas
  2. Test out speaking louder than you usually do with people you’re comfortable with
  3. Practice, practice, practice.  You can get a lot of that at Toastmasters, a great non-profit that helps people with public speaking

Mojo Moves

1.  Ask your Accountability Wingman for an assessment of your voice
2.  No matter what the audible level of your voice is, check out the speaking tips on Toastmasters
3.  Avoid conference calls whenever possible

MuCash lets you make donations quicky in increments as small as a single penny. By leaving a small donation every time you find something of value on Mojo40, you can help me (Diane) keep creating content like this for you to enjoy.
Did you enjoy this post?
  • Wendy

    Yes, what is with low-talkers? This must happen to them all the time at parties. From now on, I refuse to continue a conversation with someone I can’t hear. I will quit nodding my head and just suggest that we either go someplace quieter (if possible) or tell them out right, I can’t hear most of what you are saying.

    • Susan Kim

      Wendy, I was just at a big internet industry shindig last night and one of the sponsors got up to speak (on a microphone). She was so quiet that the crowd thought it no one was up there yet so continued to talk. She couldn’t understand why no one would pipe down. So the MC, in a louder voice, told the crowd to hush. They did. But couldn’t hear the sponsor when she started talking again so they went back to their conversation.
      That she still continued in her low talking kitten voice– just showed that company needs a better PR person.

  • RM

    Wendy, I like your suggestion…and if they don’t appreciate that I can’t hear anything and won’t speak up, then I will end the conversation. It’s too frustrating. Now, for the group…how do you handle the LOUD people? I know some real LOUD talkers and I think it’s because they have a hearing problem and won’t admit it….any thoughts? My ears hurt with them….

    • Susan Kim

      When people are too loud (sometimes guilty) it’s that you are talking so softly they are trying to encourage you to speak louder. Do the same thing with them as you do with low talkers. First, see if you can get them in a place you don’t have to shout/yell. Then, tell them you have sensitive hearing– like a bat– and request that they speak softer. Loud mouths, in general, are not quiet as sensitive as low talkers so you can give them grief for talking to loudly. If they still don’t pipe down, step back or go get a drink. It’s their fault. Just hold up your end of the deal and speak a little louder.

  • PM

    Interesting factoid I picked up watching a PBS special on the brain: as we age, our ability to distinguish conversations in a loud room declines. It’s often not really our hearing that’s going (though of course this is possible also); it’s our brain just saying “To hell with this, I refuse to go to the trouble of picking up one voice out of many.”

    Of course, this is supposed to happen when we’re on Social Security, but it started happening to me in my 40s. …Excuse me, I have to leave for the Early Bird Special before the rush.

    • Susan Kim

      Great factoid. I think that’s why it’s also hard to hear someone when a TV is on in the background.
      Another reason to keep the TV off.

  • 6chris6

    We have a low talker at work and she is so nice that I would feel bad saying anything like “can you speak up, I can’t hear you.” I have to lean in very close and that feels uncomfortable since my space and her’s is being invaded. Another friend at work tends to talk to me with his back turned, it is pretty loud where I work and this just drives me crazy!

What is this site about?

It’s about getting you up to speed with today’s digital networking tools, and sharing a roadmap to elevate your career that doesn’t assume you grew up with wi-fi in your bassinet. Ready to get your career mojo back?

Featured in Alltop


  • Age Concerns (10)
  • Attitude Adjustment (32)
  • Balancing Work and Life (10)
  • Best Videos (8)
  • Blogging Tips (8)
  • Creative Engine (10)
  • Facebook FAQ (3)
  • Funding (1)
  • Gigging (7)
  • How to Become an Entrepreneur (26)
  • How to Increase Sales (13)
  • How to Interview Well (13)
  • How to Network (22)
  • Job Search Strategies (13)
  • Learn Something New (33)
  • LinkedIn Tips (14)
  • Small Business Web Marketing (14)
  • Social Media Tips (13)
  • Tech Tips (21)
  • Time Management Strategies (17)
  • Twitter Tips (7)

Socialize with us at

  • Find us on LinkedIn
  • Find us on Twitter

Find Us On Facebook


Mojo40 Twitter Updates