Keep Your Mouth Shut!

Success Through Talking Less

If A is a success in life, then A equals X plus Y plus Z, where X is work, Y is play, and Z is keeping your mouth shut.” —Albert Einstein

This tart statement by no less than Albert Einstein ties in perfectly to this week’s column on when to know the value of keeping one’s mouth shut.

Juli Shulem

What many of us don’t often realize is that this small but mighty skill can improve productivity, sales, and social popularity. Let me explain …

As a seasoned life coach, I am highly skilled at listening. If I don’t listen and really hear what my client is expressing — and sometimes repressing — then I will not be able to ask the powerful questions that help my clients achieve results in their lives. In essence I must continuously keep my mouth shut. I have learned that giving someone the space to think and speak honors their need to process and work through a situation or issue. By keeping my mouth shut, I am honoring and respecting the person I am coaching.

Another essential time to keep one’s mouth shut is when you are making a request or attempting to elicit a response. Brevity pays off here. A wonderful example of this is exhibited by a longtime attorney friend. He went to the front desk of a hotel at which we and another couple were booked, but we were very disappointed with the place upon arrival. The hotel had a strict policy of no cancellations or refunds. He said he would handle it — who was I to argue?!? He politely walked up to the manager and stated, “We would like to cancel our reservation here.” He said no more and just smiled. The manager was a little flustered, waiting for and expecting a lengthy explanation. There was none, so the manager asked what was wrong. My friend said, “It’s not what we were expecting.” Again, short and direct. That was it. He stated his request and shut up. He succinctly answered the question posed and no more. We received a complete refund and walked out without fuss.

How many times have you “over-explained” yourself in order to justify a request when a question wasn’t even posed?

Not only have you wasted your breath, but you have wasted your time and the time of others going on about something without cause. Brevity is a wonderful productivity tool! Going on and on about something that is unnecessary is a complete waste of time. I have learned in life to state my case and shut up. If more information is needed, I have learned that people will generally ask! If they don’t then you going on about it generally won’t help your case, and often can even hurt it.

So, being brief can often make the difference between making the sale or achieving your goal, and talking yourself right out of success. When I coach clients on communicating, we focus on being clear and concise. If you keep talking to plead your case, you often lose the listener’s trust, attention, and ultimately their support.

Do you have questions for this column? Email questions to Coach Juli, PCC, ADHD Productivity Coach at and put “question for column” in the subject line; they will be answered right here — your name is not used. My column is published every other week. Please enjoy the back issues as well should you have missed something that might inspire you.

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