Top 10 Situations to Keep Your Mouth Shut and Look Smart
Ever say something and immediately wish you could take it back? I often suffer from foot-and-mouth disease so when I stumbled across an article explaining with to shut the fuck up, excitement flowed through my veins. Problem was, the article, while great, was from Inc. magazine, geared for business negotiations.
Being a freelance writer I don’t often find myself getting into trouble in business negotiations, but rather when it comes to parties and gatherings. Typically I can be counted on to say the wrong thing at least once per night, maybe more if I’m drunk on a roll.
So I tweaked the top 10 list toward social settings. Let’s face it, in a world where we’d rather text our responses rather than actually saying them out loud, small-talk is becoming a thing of the past. But since we live in a grown up world and must act accordingly – from time to time – her are 10 situations explaining:
When to Shut the Eff Up
10. Before a speech – This is brilliant. After you’ve cleared your throat or tapped the side of your champagne flute, start with an uncomfortable pause. This makes people stop talking to see if you’re about to have a panic attack. Once you begin speaking, they’re so relieved 911 won’t be necessary, they’ll give you their complete attention.
9. When you are clearly boring people – This is a riddle wrapped in a joke shoved in a conundrum. Do people need to fall asleep to demonstrate boredom or will yawning do? Not all of you us are blessed with the gift of gab, so assume you are not one of those people and stop talking.
8. When you want someone else to grow – I mean, just because you don’t really think your friend should have that sixth drink, but she’s so much fun right now, and isn’t driving, so what’s the harm? By remaining quiet, you’re actually helping that friend grow from the knowledge of when to say when.
7. When your comment is about you more than the other person – This is about one-upping. It’s rude so stop it. Let’s say you’re having a conversation with someone you hardly know who is sharing how super excited they are about taking the family to San Antonio to see the Riverwalk. Your family will be vacationing at an all-inclusive resort in the Turks and Caicos free-flowing daiquiris and massages on the beach. Keep it to yourself. It’s not about you – right now.
6. When you’re bragging, as opposed to sharing – Take the situation above and reverse it. Again, don’t be that asshole.
5. When you need someone else to get the credit – This makes no sense. If perhaps you need someone else to take the blame, keep quiet, sure that makes a sense, but this is about paying it forward, or as I like to call it, putting money in the karma bank.
4. When you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about – After going to many parties with open bars, I have yet to come across this person. Everyone’s an expert, am I right? Let’s put it a different way. When you have nothing further to contribute stop talking.
3. When the other side has a misunderstanding – If you find yourself at a gathering and a couple can’t agree on whether their kids caught the flu last year or two years ago, it’s not your job to figure it out for them. Stand there with zero expression on your face to best indicate you don’t give a shit.
2. When you’ve asked a question – Duh. This seems self-explanatory. Give the person time to answer the question and don’t ask questions you already know the answer to. That’s just showing off and very annoying.
And most important: 1. When the other side begins arguing – Okay, let’s say you’re at a BBQ and the couple you are speaking with starts arguing. Something like how the husband never told the wife the sales department met for cocktails on Halloween and that was the real reason he was late to take the kids trick-or-treating. Don’t say another word. Slowly take two steps backwards and pretend to see someone across the room.
The key thing to remember when having a conversation is to listen. And to do that you must shut your mouth. Don’t start planning your response before the other person is finished giving theirs. That’s why you have two ears and one mouth.
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