Inspiration,  Personal,  Travel

The Power of Being Quiet

On my Discover Bahrain trip, I was one of 20 delegates from 20 different countries around the world. So it was a very dynamic group. As soon as we met as a group, it is clear that I become more quiet. In contrary to my usually cheerful & chatty blog posts and tweets, it has been my nature to be more quiet as soon as the group is growing more than 5 people. I prefer observing with my own thoughts. Dr Hala, one of Discover Bahrain committee said, “Indonesians are quiet!” – and it got me thinking.

At first, I thought, Indonesian are more quiet because they think they can’t speak the language properly and they’re afraid to make a sound stupid opinion. But when this happen to me, I speak English quite well and I’m confident enough to say what I want to say, turn out, I still talk less.

Then I realized, maybe it’s true that our social and culture habit teach us to stay humble and don’t question things (check here to learn how to nurture your critical thinking). We also usually don’t brag, but clearly, on one on one conversation, people can identify that we’re sincere and can be trusted. I think that’s the strong point that we must acknowledge. So, even when in group setting you’re quiet, make sure you make that personal connection that will make you be equally remembered as the active one.

I asked some of my delegates friends about what they think about me while in Bahrain, at first it’s for research purpose to find out about what they think about Indonesian in general, but their answers are interesting for me as my personal evaluation that I wanted to quote them fully without changing their original voice.

Lindsey Nussbaum (Houston, USA). Lindsey is the first delegate I talk to (beside my room mate Kubra). Everybody already mingling with each other, and he’s there quietly alone. So I started a conversation with him. He has a very interesting life, he knows his passion, he knows what’s important in this life is not money. That’s why he quit his job, sell everything and travel around the world. And this is what Lindsey says about me.

When I met you in Bahrain, you seemed like a strong independent woman. You seem to be in charge of your own life, not restricted by your society, religion, or men. You have a calm and quiet personality. You seem to observe and think about things. You are not worried about how others see you, but from a business point of view you do wan them to notice you so you will do some self-promotion when the opportunity arises. Not greedily or egotistically, but out of hard work in trying to make your life better for yourself and to have success.

Mira Green (New York, USA). Me and Mira never really talk while in Bahrain, we exchange some small conversations only, part of it because I think she doesn’t like to talk too much, so I don’t want to interrupt her serenity. She observed and she’s an excellent writer. I’m quite surprised with how she describes me.

Before I met you, I saw your picture, and I thought you seemed like a successful, graceful, and friendly woman. I noticed that you seemed confident in your picture, and had amazing clothes and fashion. I definitely noticed your clothes – beautiful!

Upon meeting you, I learned that I was correct! In comparison to some other delegates, you were more quiet in group settings, I think, (like me!) but I noticed you talked a lot to people in one-on-one settings, and seemed to take a genuine interest in talking to people and getting to know them.

Now that the program is over, I think all of the same things: you strike me as successful, graceful, friendly, genuine, and take the time to get to know people. I’m glad to have met you!

Kübra Gümüsay (Turkish-German journalist living in Oxford, UK). Kubra is my room mate that locked me off the door and slept away for few hours and make everybody (from receptionist, security guy, technician and hotel manager) busy, on the first day we met LOL. She’s a sweet, extremely creative young woman with opinion. And when she has her opinion, she has to say it or do something about it. Compared to my Javanese ‘non-complaining sufferer’ root, of course we’re so different. I know sometimes she’s frustrated with me and always say, “Ollie, you’re too kind.” – and like Dexter said, it is how it is :))

I wasn’t surprised by your nature – also because I don’t expect people of certain nations to be a certain way, they all vary. Although I would agree, that there are tendencies. In American culture it is more acceptable to praise and “sell” yourself than in Japanese culture e.g.

I thought you were a very confident and experienced woman with clear aims, values and dreams in life. You didn’t seem to be bothered too much what people think of you, but to me it seemed you strongly believed in what you do. All in all, very inspiring and unique lady! :)
But also, I first got to know you as a speaker because we presented our stories together to the Discover Islam group. So, my impression might be very different from the others who had to “discover” your talents and inspirational stories. :)

Farah Souames (Algerian lady living in Egypt). I love Farah because she has a strong voice, literally. She can speak French as well and that makes her even sexier :D She’s a happy person and always try to keep her mood positive. I’m glad I met her and hopefully to meet her again soon in Cairo.

Well before I had the great pleasure to meet you, I had already a lot friends from Indonesia, and they have exactly the same temper as yours!! And it was actually my same comment to them, I told them you are so quiet and peaceful , like Indians somehow… after knowing , I can say frankly and its not over complimenting… you are quiet but very strong in the same time. We had the chance to share our personal stories , and I remember I told I am very proud of the way you ignored your problems and went forward in your life this was really touchy!

Aurés Kabir Ákos Moussong (Mexico). Kabir is an interesting friend with personality. He grab attention with his Arabic headpiece and thobe. We called him Sheikh Kabir. He’s a great friend, funny, and also very serious composer that constantly seek opportunities to grow.

I think you are social but quiet. 
I thought that maybe you were not really interested in meeting so many people, you just choose the people you wanted to talk to. So I feel honoured! hahaha.
 But neither I felt you being shy, just reserved.

Shaikha showaiter (Bahrain). Shaikha is one of volunteers in Discover Bahrain team, and I value her help and support, also sweet smile, during my stay in Bahrain.

Well before I met you I was reading about all the delegates, and as I told you before, you were definitely a person I wanted to meet and get to know. I met u the first time on lunch at dohat arad. I felt that you have so much confidence but still very humble and sweet. As soon as we started to talk you answered all my questions plus much more. I felt I wanted to know more about you and read your books but the program doesn’t allow us to take it slow as we wanted and the books were not written in english or arabic.
I really wish that you write your story of success and achievements in english so that the youth and future entrepreneurs can benefit from you.
When it comes to “Indonesians” sadly I only meet the one’s that are here working as home maids – like the lady you met in dr. amal’s house. When you meet a lady like her at first when they come they are very scared because they hear that the gulf region are very harsh on them, and in some regions they actually are. They would not talk and have huge walls built around them. I really wish that these ladies would show how really smart they are and maybe try to be more than just house maids. I have met so many Indonesian house maids but I never learn about Indonesia. My understanding is they need to have more self esteem and need to KNOW that the work that they are doing is very respectful and honorable because they only do it to provide for themselves and their families.

Jaime Raúl Sotomayor Barrios (Peru). I love having conversation with Jaime because he’s such an easy going, talkative and funny guy. We speak about startups and entrepreneurship, and I get a lot of insight from Jaime. Hope we’ll meet again to continue the conversation!

My first impression (about you) was of a very reserved and conservative woman. This is what I felt because of my occidental mindset of a person that comes from Asia and is wearing a veil.

After the program was over, I had most of it wrong. You are not a reserved person, you just don’t over talk like me hahaha. You are openly to talk of all sort of topics. And the veil thing is a life choice. So I had some concepts wrong.

Valisa Highman (Alaska). She’s a very friendly lady from Alaska. I love sunset, so I ask a lot about how to get to Alaska. Valisa said she will drive me to Alaska from Canada if I really want to visit her. Yay!

I don’t think I had any stereotype in my mind of Indonesian people. My brother has traveled in Indonesia, but I guess when I thought of going there, I though mostly of the landscape and art. Now that I have met you, I am much more intrigued by the culture too.

My view of quiet verses assertive may be a bit skewed. You may have noticed that I am kind of quiet in large groups. I felt that you displayed an ability to be engaged without being a show off. You showed interest and though you were not always the first to speak, the things you said were intelligent.

You are right that there are other ways to communicate. Our group had an interesting mix I think. We had some very outspoken, loud, goofy folks, and some quiet note takers, and some people looking for things to hate and some looking for things to love. I was really impressed with your ability to connect with everyone. You are obviously not shy, but do not feel the need to bring attention to yourself. Very refreshing.

Thank you very much friends. I miss you all, already.



A writer of 30 books. Co-Founder & CMO & Initiate StartupLokal, the biggest startup community in Indonesia. Co-Managing Director of Girls in Tech Indonesia.


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