Sometimes the best thing you can do is simply shut up. Simply put a big pair of socks in your mouth and plug up your cake hole.
There are plenty of situations where shutting up is the right strategy. There are also plenty of benefits to doing so. It’s no secret – sometimes I open my mouth when I should be doing exactly the opposite and before those of you who agree start spewing “I can’t stand when he talks” just realize at least I’m self aware – are you? Hmmm. Hello Pot, this is Kettle…
Anyway, there are three reasons you need to simply hush. Shutting up can build relationships (or prevent destroying them), improve negotiations, and make you smarter. This is a difficult skill to master especially in a world that encourages us to share MORE of our thoughts than ever (hello Twitter, Facebook, blogs – oops). I’ve talked about other benefits of shutting up before in this post – CLICK HERE to read it. All that said, here’s the argument for keeping quiet:
We’ve all had that moment where a colleague, business partner, customer, or someone else important to us says something or sends an email that makes our head explode. Our instant instinctive reaction is to fire back and obliterate that individual into a smoldering pile of ashes that are forensically unidentifiable.
Count to 10. Write your scathing email reply and say everything you wanted to say (be sure NOT to address it to the person because you might instinctively hit “Send” and then you’re toast – just write the body of the email without a “To:” name listed). Reread the email 10 times. Get really mad. Get ready to send it.
Now delete it.
You’ve gotten it out of your system. Now let it go. This approach holds true for conversations too. Say all those horrible things in your head then let the thoughts evaporate. It’s hard but if I can do it, so can you. Keeping quiet can prevent you from damaging an important relationship and keep you from looking hotheaded or unreasonable.
“He/she who talks price first, loses.” Wrong. Actually, talking price first wins (the research shows it – it’s called anchoring – look it up). But sometimes not talking at all can be a powerful negotiating tactic as well.
Silence is uncomfortable. When someone puts something on the table in a negotiation they expect you to respond and push back. If you instead remain silent after they put something out there, you’re implying you are not satisfied with the offer. The silence gets uncomfortable (less so for you because you are in control of it).
Eventually the other party is likely to fill that silence. When they do they’ll either rationalize their last point which will give you insight into their objectives or weak points or they’ll actually begin negotiating against themselves and put something better in front of you just to fill the silence.
Try it sometime. Don’t do it in a high-risk negotiation but see how the other person reacts to the silence. You might be surprised.
I love saying “you have two ears and one mouth for a reason.” You can’t learn while you’re talking. Period. I’ve never met anyone who can transmit and receive at the same time. When you are in receive mode, you can learn new things.
There’s another benefit to listening rather than talking. If you want others around you to think you’re brilliant, shut up and listen. When others get to share their opinions and ideas, they feel important. You should actively solicit those thoughts from them and listen in an engaged manner. By listening, you can come across as exponentially more brilliant than you already are as I cover in this post.
Shutting your cake hole from time to time is a powerful communications tool. Try it. I’ll shut up now.