Embrace The Silence. (Or, When to Simply Shut Up.)

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Another in the continuing series of How to Be Taken Seriously – This one involves knowing when NOT to talk.

I used to have this totally insane, very loud friend, who’d call me up on random weekdays and be all like, “I don’t want to go to work today. Let’s go to a spa.” I usually turned her down, but the one time I went, I remember the spa having a sign that’s stuck with me to this day. It said simply…

“Embrace the Silence.”

The concept was simple. You were in a spa. You were waiting for your treatment, or just got out of one. You were relaxed. It was quiet. There was no need to talk, or jump on your mobile, or pull out your laptop. It was peaceful.

Silence reigned.

With each of us having more and more ways to communicate, perhaps it’s time we went back to that sign’s true meaning. Below are four times when you might want to just embrace the silence. Or, to put it more directly, here’s a list of times when you should just shut the hell up.

Four Times It’s Totally Appropriate To Shut the Hell Up

1) When meeting someone for the first time: It’s no secret that we all live to impress: We like to let people know how great we are the moment we see them. The thing is, if you play all your greatest hits too soon, you don’t have anything left over to pull out when you really need it. My suggestion? When you meet someone for the first time, shut up. Let THEM talk. You can learn so much about a person if you just stop talking and start listening. You learn all the things you can use – anything you have in common with them, for instance, that you can pull out whenever you need a quick boost. It’s simple: If you meet someone, let them talk ninety words to your every ten.

2) When your boss’s boss is congratulating you. It’s nice to get recognition, but it’s also a wonderful time to make yourself even more beloved than you already are. When your boss’s boss is talking to you, congratulating you, or the like, say thank you, but then, mention the real hero of the day – Your boss. By congratulating your boss and letting his (or her) boss think that he (or she) is the real hero, you’re cementing your loyalty to your boss. When your boss moves up (and he (or she) will,) you’ll be coming along for the ride.

3) While you’re not necessarily shutting up completely in this example, comparatively, you’re like a mouse, when you’re behind the moron who’s screaming and pulling his “Don’t you know who I am” routine at the airport check-in counter, or the club, or the restaurant, etc. Essentially, here’s how it goes: You wait for him to finish (and most probably get denied.) Then you walk up, smile at the gate agent/bouncer, maitre ‘d, etc. and pull the soft-voice “I can’t imagine how you do your job as well as you do,surrounded by such mean people.” End result: You wind up with the upgrade the moron in front of you so badly wanted.

4) When someone else is being ridiculously loud on their mobile phone in a public place. You’re probably thinking I’m crazy with this one – Why would you shut up, as opposed to telling them off? In some cases, you can tell them off – It depends on what they’re saying. Listen to them first. Is it a business or personal call? If person, what kind? Boring stuff? Stuff about their nail salon appointment? By all means, go over and smack them silly. But… If it’s a business call, or a personal call or some importance, don’t tell them to stop talking, do what I do: Turn on the voice recorder (or better, the video recorder) of your phone or laptop. Start taking notes. Business call? Are they mentioning names? Remember – Google is your friend. With nothing more than Google, a few key names, and their own stupidity, you can probably gain a lot of information that could be quite valuable, if you know what to do with it. Or, I guess you could just tell them to shut up.

What other times are appropriate to just shut up? Let me know in the comments.

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