The value of a closed mouth

The value of a closed mouth
“Never miss a good chance to shut up.”
~Will Rogers

The other day I walked away from a conversation with a refrain echoing in my head. It used to be more common for me, but I’ve been working on it – hard. Unfortunately yesterday I slipped into old behavior, and I was not letting myself sit easy with it. “Why did you say that?” I thought. “There’s no reason to have said that out loud.”

There’s a reason people say “A closed mouth catches no flies.” When we don’t say something, we don’t say something we later regret. When we’re careful about what we share with people, or how we respond, we lessen the risk that we’ll unintentionally upset someone else.

There are some of us that this is harder for than others. These are the clients that I work with to manage their “poker face” and their “poker mouth.” The ones who find themselves reacting to others rather than Thoughtfully responding, blurting out what’s on their mind rather than thinking it through first.

There are times for sharing what we’re thinking. Even the harshest feedback may need to be shared. But contemplating our desired outcome for the feedback, or information, or ideas we’re sharing before we share them may help us to share what is necessary but not more than what is necessary. To “say what we mean but don’t say it mean.” And to know when to shut up!

What was the last good chance to shut up that you missed?
Please leave a comment.

For help in shutting up – or in speaking up – contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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What People Are Saying

Rob   |   21 October 2013

I think the best way to respond is with a pointed, insightful (not inciteful) question when someone has just explained or described something for you. This shows interest, respect and that you were obviously paying attention. It also forces you to formulate a cogent thought into a question and digest what you just heard. It allows the other party to home in on the subject at hand and avoids unnecessary banter or details. Questions are a great way to have a discussion and show interest. Typically it avoids filler or hoof in mouth issues as well.

Lisa Kohn   |   21 October 2013

Thanks for your insightful comment, Rob. I agree that responding with a question may be a great way to show interest, take the conversation further, and avoid saying something we later regret. Needless to say, the question has to be well thought out, but good questions can stimulate discussion and understanding. Thanks again.