Inside Voice: God May Not Judge, But We Do

God Might Not Judge, But We Do is an ongoing series that aims not only to complain, but to explain why some behaviors go beyond cultural differences and cross over into being completely and totally judge worthy. Learn more about GMNJ, But We Do here, and remember we’re Just Not That Way.


Chapter One: Inside Voice

“Speak to people directly; never speak to anyone indirectly via your loud voice.” – JNTW

What we say and how we say it speaks volumes about who we are and where we come from. The actual volume of your voice will literally speak volumes, and not always in the most favorable light.

This is never more true than when we travel.

Each culture is different, but one thing is true. When you travel it’s important to adjust your behaviors out of respect for that culture. (And not to embarrass your own.)

Everyone has come across those people that are talking about five times louder than everyone else. It might be a group of rambunctious teenagers shouting on the street late at night, or Americans talk-yelling about the dangers of pickpockets at a cafe in Milan.

I should also say, that as an American myself, I reserve the right to say whatever I want about Americans. Especially because we are so often the culprits.

Why do you play into this unflattering stereotype my fellow Americans? No, seriously. Someone tell me, because I genuinely don’t understand. Do you enjoy making everyone else look bad, or are you actually that oblivious? Why pay all that money to come to Europe and bother the locals? Do you feel the judgment of others or do you just not care? I have so many questions.

Obviously, if one was to pick this apart, one could counter with many situations where this is unavoidable. To that end I have to say, good for you. Me too.

We all get excited every now and then, particularly during that second bottle of Moet, or if we become momentarily overwhelmed with excitement. I am not talking about this type of loudness. We are all guilty of this from time to time.

There is a reason your mother told you to use your inside voice as a child. It’s because it’s rude and bothersome to strangers. To be specific, I mean to underscore the day to day practice of communicating with the person or persons you’re talking to, and not also communicating with the people at the next table in the process.

Strangers don’t need to hear your private conversations. If you feel like they do, then speak to that person directly, but never speak to anyone indirectly via your loud voice.

There is a time and place for talking loudly in public. However, most of us are not participating in a production of Macbeth at an outdoor amphitheater. The world might be your stage, but you shouldn’t take that idea too literally.

Consider for a moment driving on the highway. Most people, regardless of the speed limit, will adjust their speed to match the traffic around them. This is true if traffic is going 45mph or 75mph. When someone is going 75mph, and the rest of traffic is going 45mph… that person is an asshole.

The same type of rule should be applied to the volume of one’s voice at any given time. If you’re in a loud pub, then talking at a border line yell is perfectly acceptable. If you’re at a quiet cafe enjoying an aperitivo…. Well, you catch my drift.

If you take this logic with you wherever you go, then you will fit in anywhere and everywhere you travel.

We’re not the only ones judging,


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