I seem to have a problem knowing when to shut up. I thought I was the only person with this problem and then I saw a friend do the same thing and I realised that for some passionate people there is a point at which knowing when to shut up is critical.
Why would this be important?
Let me give you the situation
There is a heated discussion (only happens when the discussion is heated and lots of emotion is in the room). The crowd listening is polarised with more people on the side of the other person. Lets call that person Miss J. Miss J has just admitted doing something but is dismissing her action as inconsequential and implying that your feelings really are insignificant and you are making a mountain out of a molehill.
You feel that they do not recognise the seriousness of the situation and you continue making points looking for a more positive statement of action from Miss J.
Suddenly several other people jump to Miss J’s defence and you feel attacked and threatened. You defend yourself.
Now, the problem is that the more you talk, the more others who may have supported you turn against you and you lose credibility.
Another example comes from the movie “Mr Smith goes to Washington“. There is a scene where Mr Smith filibusters – keeps talking in Congress so that information to block a bill can be found. Congressmen are upset. The press is eating it up. And many people are getting extremely upset because Jimmy Stewart‘s character does not seem to know when to shut up.
When we are emotional and need to figure out when to shut up we need to keep one thing in mind. Why are we talking?
In the movie, Mr Smith needed to buy time and could not shut up until the answer was found and if he gave in a vote would be taken that would create great damage.
In my friend’s case, she needed to get commitment that an action would be taken.
Unfortunately when we keep talking to get the action and we alienate our support network.
The reason for this is most people feel uncomfortable witnessing confrontation.
So the next time you find yourself speaking figure out really fast what it is you want out of the discussion and ASK for that. Then sit down and shut up regardless.
It is difficult to do especially when emotions run high. It is important though that you learn when to shut up or you will find yourself dealing with other situations and worse, you will find yourself not being listened to the next time.
Have you ever been in a situation when you should have shut up sooner?
Simplifier, Presenter, Mentor