When to Hold Your Tongue

July 1, 2011

Business is all about relationships. And the fastest way to end, or seriously hamper, a good relationship is to put your foot square in your mouth. You might pride yourself on being a smooth talker that can make any sale, close any deal, and make any foe into your best friend. As important as it is to know what to say and how to say it, there is another important tool to have waiting and ready, knowing when and how to hold your tongue.

Photo credit: sourjayne on flickr

Silence is a powerful tool. Simply by allowing silence to fall in a conversation while you think of your response, signals that you aren’t taking the subject lightly and actually makes you appear more passionate about the conversation, maybe even smarter. Allowing silence to fall before stating your view grabs attention and makes people stop, suddenly very interested in what you have to say. They may even weigh your opinion more heavily.

There are many situations where holding your tongue is far better than putting in your two cents.

When a coworker begins to talk about their personal life or a disagreement with another coworker, it would be rude to brush them off, but you might say something that could alienate you. The best approach is to simply listen to what they are saying and resist the urge to give advice or gossip back. You have now shown that you care about the person talking without involving yourself in the issue, you haven’t put your character on the line.

Here are some other circumstances where silence will do you well.

  • After a job interview, before you have accepted the position and notified your current employer.
  • When you aren’t sure what to say, silent attention is always better than uninformed talking.
  • When you only have something negative to say
  • When no one has asked you a question and you aren’t involved in the conversation

You can’t be afraid of silence in the business world. There are times, of course, when you must be quick with answers and rebuttals. But knowing when to sit back and refrain from giving your thoughts or inserting your view is an important tool in maintaining business relationships.

This article has been brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training Baltimore. For more great information, connect with us on facebook and twitter.

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