Friday, June 20, 2014


How to Keep Your Mouth Shut

The desire for free speech and expression can keep us from closing our mouths and listening to others. Mark Twain once said, "It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid, than to open it and remove all doubt." Learn to adequately judge a situation and speak your mind at work, at home and online only when it will add value.

Method 1 of 3: Staying Silent at Work

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    Think of anything you say at work as an opportunity to add value. Conversely, if the thing you are thinking won't add value, it shouldn't be said. There is value in silence because it allows you to observe other people's actions.
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    Rethink your water cooler conversations. If a person hasn't said three full sentences in the last three minutes, then you are talking too much. When you realize you've broken the rule of threes, ask an open ended question and listen.[1]
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    Think of silence as a work skill you are developing, like managerial skills or Excel proficiency. Aim to avoid gossip, distracted chatter during meetings and discussing personal matters at work and your boss will think you have better work ethic.[2]
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    Build power through silence. Each time you are silent instead of saying what you are thinking, it will make the next time you talk more powerful. Meetings are the best time to practice this and see if you can build respect from colleagues by avoiding meaningless talk.
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    Use silence to negotiate. If you don't respond or give a nod after someone suggests something, your silence can make the other person uneasy. If they are uncomfortable enough to suggest an alternative, you can get the upper hand.[3]
    • You will gain valuable information by hearing what everyone else thinks before you respond.

Method 2 of 3: Being Quieter at Home

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    Allow everyone two minutes to talk before you interrupt them. If a person seems angry or upset, they need at least two minutes to vent. Allow them to finish, then say, "I'm sorry, that sounds bad" to show you understand their frustration.
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    Stop talking if you want to say, "I'd hate to say I told you so" or "I don't want to upset you." Any phrase that starts that way and continues with the word "but" is likely to upset the person rather than add value.
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    Wait 15 seconds after asking a question. If you are trying to start a good conversation at dinner, ask open-ended questions and then back off. The desire to jump in too quickly can prevent people from thinking about the question and expressing themselves.
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    Say nothing instead of saying negative. Try repeating the adage "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" the next time you want to complain about a person or argue. You will instantly become a more positive person.[4]
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    Write it down. Stop talking and start journaling. If your conversations with your partner or children have been frustrating lately, you can work out your thoughts on paper before you say them.
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    Do something each day that calms your mind. Too much chatter in your head may mean too much talk. Try meditation, yoga, reading or viewing photos of art for at least 10 minutes daily to focus your thoughts.

Method 3 of 3: Reducing Online Chatter

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    Consider typing the same as talking. You should also follow a "value added" rule where you don't type just to type. Each time you send a needless text, email or status update, you may be wasting yours and other peoples' time.
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    Don't use "reply all." You don't want to develop the reputation as the person at work or in your group of friends that fills their inbox with needless emails. If you want to respond to an email, call the person or reply only to the person to which the subject directly applies.
    • This rule also applies to texts. If you are part of a group text, only respond to the group if they are waiting on your answer.
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    Leave political and religious chatter out of Facebook and online commenting. You will never have a thought-provoking discussion with all of your friends online, because this medium doesn't show nuance or emotion. Leave those discussions for face-to-face contact.
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    Think "This is permanent" before you post a comment or status update on any social media network. Once you publish it to the web, there is a copy that remains forever in someone's files. Question whether you want your kids or friends to be able to reference this thought years down the line.[5]
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    Pick up the phone. Shut your virtual mouth by calling someone each time you want to post information online. If you think the topic isn't worth the distraction or time, then it may not be worth posting.
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    Understand the legal ramifications of posting online. Your public post can be seen by employers, spouses, children or even the police. It can be used in a court of law in most places as well.

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