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 +Greg on Google+.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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