shut up

Shh! 10 Good Times to Shut Up

Ever feel like you’ve gone and said too much? Again?

Maybe you kill a joke or ruin a great moment. Foot in ze ol’ mouth.

Well listen up. And shut up. Not many people know it but shutting up can be the trump card in a lot of situations.
Shutting up helps you appear wise and avoid conflict. It can make someone reveal critical information. In general, it can make life easier which it turn makes you a happier person.

Here’s how and when to just shut up.

1) When people are gossiping
People love gossiping and many of us can’t help it. It’s refreshing. It makes life seem a bit better. But the next time you hear gossiping, especially about your friends, try holding your tongue. Listen to what the gossiper is saying, it may reveal a lot about both parties. Instead of being like “yeahh, she is a b*$$#,” try saying “well, she’s trying her hardest” and see what the response is. Deny yourself that tiny pleasure from putting someone else down. You’ll be happy about it later.

2) When asked about your love life
How was last night? Did it go well wink wink? We’ve all heard these prying questions from roommates and friends and it’s fun boasting our conquests (especially when they’re few and far between). But you’re better off remaining mysterious. Keeping quiet about your hookups will make your admirers respect, and seek you out, even more. Only talk love life if you really need advice.

3) After an obviously erroneous statement
We all get called out from time to time at the office and in social settings. But sometimes letting someone’s accusation linger in the air exposes its flaws. Sure you’ve got to defend yourself sometimes, but if someone takes a really stupid jab at you, and others notice, you might look stronger just saying nothing and chuckling instead. Let that person roast in their own stupidity.

4) At the near-end of a joke
No one likes the guy who kills a joke. Instead of asking, “wait what was that?” just play along with jokes and funny stories, even those you don’t fully understand, adding new information instead of beating the heck out of them. You’ll be more popular starting a joke than finishing it.

5) When you’re the expert
Experts are reserved. They wisely interject their knowledge into a discussion. So when your friend or colleague sets you up saying “hey, he knows all about this” at dinner don’t feel like you have to pour out all your knowledge. No need to prove yourself. Instead, be reserved, say thanks, and give a concise, even self-deprecating summary of what you do. Try to act like you get congratulated all the time.

6) When under fire
Getting in trouble is a part of life and sometimes the person in power just needs to run through everything they’re upset about. Bosses yell, referees yells, our spouses yell. It does not always help to talk back. On the other hand, be silent and take the blows, then find a good time to say a concise sorry. Even if you’re not in the wrong. This will get you out of jail and on with your life a whole lot quicker.

7) When talking about money
If you aspire to be rich someday, keep the poor person inside of you quiet. Don’t mention your salary when others are bragging and don’t whine about being owed money. Lend to your friends, it’ll come back around. An aura of quiet confidence around money issues will help you someday find riches.

8) In line at an event
This one is specific, but I’ve noticed that those who wait patiently to get into a club or concert often get through faster than the loud mouths begging for entrance. Being loud and belligerent gets you nowhere and a quiet confidence makes it look like you belong.

9) When congratulated
Neil Strauss wrote in his book “The Game” that often times a smooth and confident “thank you” is the best response to a congratulations. It’s true. Just saying thank you is enough. Don’t say “oh, well it was all him” or “yeah, I don’t know how I did it” or something equally blasé. Just be the man, say thank you, and go dominate your next conquest.

10) When some is divulging secrets
If you find yourself in a rare moment when someone in power or with useful information has decided to pour it out for you, please just listen. You’ll learn a lot. Understand how valuable the information is and store it away for use later on. A smile is all the response you need to give.

Shutting up is an art form. Spot these moments in advance and trust me, you’ll reap the silent benefits.

So what do you think? What moments have you faced where you could have just shut up? Did you end up embarrassed? Let’s see what we can learn in the comments.

Greg helps folks decide where to blog at Dear Blogger. Find out how his email club can improve your blogging and add on Google+.

26 Responses to Shh! 10 Good Times to Shut Up

  1. Listening to John Cage’s 4:33 is a wonderful moment to shut up.

    And replying with comments. When all is said. Pass on the silence. (Sorry)

  2. I’ve got to agree with that first one. Gossip is nothing to partake in. The more inclined you are to gossip, the more likely you are to be the subject of someone else’s gossip. I’ve learned this the hard way. It’s best to just let rumors die.


  3. Greg says:

    Ha ha thanks Dan. Well said. 

  4. It is so hard for me to just shut up when I feel I am right. I somehow get pulled into the illusion that if I prove I’m right and they are wrong I will somehow be happier. When actually, the exact opposite is true.

  5. Ibti001 says:

    so true, agree with most of the points.

  6. Greg says:

    There is no right :)

  7. Greg says:

    Nice Trevor. Agreed. It’s just gonna pull you down into a spiral as people who are unhappy about their lives act negative and feel even unhappier. Hope to hear more from you!

  8. Divya P says:

    So true, especially when people are gossiping and also when bragging.

  9. Divya P says:

    So true, especially when people are gossiping and also when bragging about themselves. The temptation to prove them wrong might be overwhelming, but it’s better to be quite.

  10. My biggest flaw with not knowing when to shut up is this strange middle ground between killing the high and not quite calm. It’s hard to explain really. If I’m incredibly praised and marveled at, I am quite modest and am very relaxed. However, a few notches below that and I just don’t know when to shut up until I knock myself out. Quite the dilemma that I have yet to find a solution for. I can’t think of any personal anecdotes at the moment though, sorry Greg! Perhaps if you ask me again tomorrow I’ll have one in mind when I awaken from slumber. It is pretty late here in AZ. 

  11. This is a wonderful and much needed piece. I use to be extremely guilty, and still am at times, of not knowing how to keep my mouth shut. I’m one of those persons that always feels the need to defend myself or others. Thankfully I’ve learned along the way that some battles are best not fought.  It may not be fair, but it’s probably worth it in the long run.

  12. I’m gonna keep my mouth shut 😉

  13. Jorge Blanco says:

    I’m not much of a talker. In fact, people call me the silent type, but this has happened to me several times. This was a good reminder. I think people should really remember not to say anything bad about people especially on gossips. It can be quite hard to shut up especially when you share the same opinion about that person, but your little gossip group can turn to bullying if you keep feeding that gossip.

  14. Greg Narayan says:

    Not sure I understand Jaap but thanks for reading…

  15. Greg Narayan says:

    Exactly Jorge, gossip is really unproductive. I’m also a silent type, but can loud online :)

    Thanks a lot for commenting.

  16. Greg Narayan says:

    No ha ha not what I meant Saadullah! 

  17. Greg Narayan says:

    Hey Rynessa – I think it’s important to defend yourself swiftly then move on. Defending others is trickier. If it’s a relative or sibling then definitely but you can’t stretch yourself too thin, ya know.

  18. Pingback: 10 Good Times to Shut Up « The Thoughts of an Old Fart The Thoughts of an Old Fart

  19. Greg says:

    Awesome comment and insight Vincent. Well I think being self-deprecating is a good go to on those mediumish moments. You gotta mix it up though. Try being bragging like “yeah, I know I’m awesome” sometimes, then try being self-deprecating at others and see what works best!

    I love mixing it up :)

    Any anecdotes yet? Hear ya, I fell asleep in NY tackling all these comments the other night. 

  20. Greg Narayan says:

    Exactly Divya…

  21. Yeah, I am often mixing it up between self-deprecation as well as cocky humor. I actually love cocky humor because it shows I rarely take myself too seriously. There still is that issue of being unable to stop once it hits the highest potential of… Praise? 

    Imagine you’re working a crowd and they love you. Full applause and everyone is loving it. You enjoy it and you keep going but the crowd eventually settles down once you drag on for too long. I’m somewhat like that.

    Now as for an anecdote, I’m still drawing blanks! It’s terrible, but I try not to ponder over it the best I can. I find that I’m better off learning from my mistakes. I suppose it’s a good thing I can’t summon any anecdotes because it shows something about my character! Anyways, thanks for reading, Greg.

  22. I enjoyed the post very much!! Been silent for two weeks now. Found it hard to add more to the noise. No way to express the power of silence better than John Cage did, composing his piece “4:33” 

  23. Equinox_solstice92 says:

    I shut up sometimes when the situation calls for it because sometimes, shutting up is the best way to prevent humiliating oneself. I shut up when I need to because I don’t want to make an ass of myself. I wrote some somewhat scathing review about my school on the internet and when people were talking about the whole incident when the owner of the school found out, I just remain shut because I know they will make nasty remarks and snide comments. They also make condescending statements and act like they are holier than thou.

  24. Equinox_solstice92 says:

    I also learned that gossiping will come back to haunt you at unexpected times. It’s hard not to cave in though. 

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