Lessons in Hoian

The older I get the quieter I become.

Captions become more condensed and I say much more using fewer words. Speaking has become a physically tiring act, so I have decided to only speak when I wish to. I used to speak for the sake of filling silence, draining myself so others could feel more comfortable knowing they’re not boring or whatever. I have decided to let my presence be enough, to be gifted someone’s presence and time should already be a sign that you are worthy.

I have never really been much of a talker, although I do enjoy to converse depending on the topic, the people etc.. Enough of meaningless conversations with people who aren’t really listening and more substantial ones with those who find you fruitful when you are simply “being”. Everyone seems to be immersed into the idea that being quiet isn’t normal, being a big talker gets you that promotion, gets you the teachers attention, gives you the title of the funny guy amongst the family, nothing is ever wrong with the one who talks too much, except just that.. but in a funny way.

Turn to the quiet one now and you will notice that people with often sweep them to the side, subconsciously asking if there is something wrong with them even though they are just as content observing.

  • Yes. Big talker + crappy listener
  • Yes please. Big talker + selective listener
  • Nope. Selective mutism + good listener 
  • Hell no. Quiet + good listener 

Yet people not listening enough or not at all is a common complaint, withal we continuously praise the ones whom talk without listening. When in my presence, I have noticed big talkers becoming quiet since I don’t force them to. Maybe many big talkers are hidden introverts waiting for someone to simply remind them to settle down.

One of my key findings whilst travelling around Vietnam is that although many things change from city-to-city, the peoples’ observant nature is constant. Back in the West, having a “straight face” is deemed “bitchy”, unsettling for the unsettled spirit. However, the Vietnamese have a natural resting face that flows from person to person and I didn’t mind it at all, it was quite relieving in fact. Elders perched barefoot in front of their open homes, sometimes in groups of 2-4 if not alone, observing passers-by. I’d snigger as tourists would express how offended they were by the Hoianese, I assume they didn’t know how to receive their genuine nature, coming from continents where fake smiles and laughs are a thing.

I found the Hoianese to be friendly and genuine people. For you to see that, one must be kind and not force your ways unto them, it’s not pleasant and they can naturally sense “fake”. They are welcoming and warm, so you too must be welcoming, once you begin to treat each of them as your friend, their homes become your home, their children will treat you like a cousin they haven’t seen in a while and the elderly will laugh/smile with you.

Majority of them can speak English, so it was quite interesting to witness English speaking tourists adjust their speech as they would if verbally speaking to a deaf 1 year old, too ignorant to notice they are the only monolingual in that one-way conversation. Speak to them as you would a friend and if they wish, they will ask you to speak slower depending on their level of English. Wouldn’t hurt to ask them to teach you a bit of their language too.

Too often we forget communication isn’t always vocal, it’s about listening attentively, paying attention to micro-expressions, knowing what the other wants to say without saying anything at all, it’s about how empathetic you are and sensitive to others’ emotions, it’s about calibrating your touch to match their needs.

Step out of yourself to experience the world through Gods’ eyes. Seeing everyone as an individual, who says your way is the best way? Who says the Western way is the best way? Let yourself be so others can be.




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Currently in China

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