The first 17 years of my life happened before mobile phones started to become widely accessible, so communication with friends and siblings happened predominantly in person or on the landline which was connected to the wall.

As always there were times when we wanted to have more private conversations out of the ears of “grown ups”, so we used the well known method of lowering the volume of our voices to a whisper. But this was often reprimanded with a stern “It’s rude to whisper”.

So where does the rudeness in whispering come from? This is essentially a point of manners and etiquette as whispering is disrespectful to others in your vicinity as the expectation is that you share your thoughts with the whole group, otherwise it could be perceived as trying to deliberately ignore others or leave them out, whether or not that is the intention.

Further to my initial example of whispering children, this is a time of development when we learn how to socialise effectively with others, so whispering can be accepted to a certain point as long as the child is informed of their error. However once we get to adulthood these lessons should have already been taken on board so there is no excuse for this kind of behaviour as it falls into the category of passive bullying I wrote about previously.

Even though this behaviour continues to take place on a regular basis it has been expanded in its delivery with the use of modern technology. Whether it be via text message or a variety of instant messaging apps, the basic function of private discussions in full view of those not included is equally as rude as the original whisper.

It could be argued that there’s a time and place where whispering could be appropriate, such as when planning a surprise gift or celebration for someone or when communicating in a traditionally quiet or sombre environment. Although the first of these may be more acceptable, both situations could still cause others who are not included to feel disrespected.

So the solution to the issue of rudeness with whispering, whatever your method of delivery, is to either keep your thoughts to yourself until you’re in a completely private situation where you can speak at a normal volume (whispering is also bad for the voice as it scratches the vocal cords), or let everyone in on the discussion and, if necessary, request that it remains confidential.

Another note on the technological modern whisper, this method is often not as private as you may think due to flaws in the security systems of the software/hardware being used, but also through human error where messages are sent by mistake to the wrong person or people. These risk factors are another reason to reconsider your choice to whisper.

This article was written from the point of view of my own life experience as being the one in vicinity of a whisper as well as the one who has been part of the clandestine conversation. So this has shaped my own perspective on this subject as well as the adjustment of my own behaviour where I will talk openly and not be afraid to be overheard, as it can then allow for a direct conversation if required. This fear of conflict or repercussions, which often instigates a whisper, can be a self imposed limitation on our progress through life. If we work on removing this fear then it may also have the positive consequence of no longer feeling the need to partake in the original or modern whisper.