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Think fast enough to stay silent!

"Silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute"  - Josh Billings

I am an introvert and shy by nature so, when I was younger by I naturally listened a lot more than I spoke. I enjoyed presenting and debating, but only when it was my turn to be on stage. In personal, smaller conversations I generally just sat back and smiled and listened to other people speak.

Then I grew up and was in environments with people that talked a lot and talked fast. I also suddenly realized that I thought fast enough to keep up and started enjoying hear myself speak even as I was forming what I wanted to say - particularly when we were debating a topic or an idea. Before I knew it, I found myself talking over other people - not intending to be rude but generally because I saw where the other person was going and figured what I had to say just had to be said right then. #facepalm

Furthermore (and I have an MBTI personality test that confirmed this :-)) by nature I tend to look logical flaws in people's arguments quickly and so very often I can't resist the temptation to correct them right away. 

We live in culture that tends to reward folks that seem to think fast and speak well - we see them as sharp, and great communicators. We have a natural tendency to assume that people that can dominate air time in meetings (or even over email) must be smart.

However, over time I've come to realize the importance of thinking fast, and then shutting up. 
  • If you can see where a conversation is going, let it get there on its own sometimes. 
  • Let people finish their thoughts and see if they get to where you want them to go (sometimes this applies to email responses too :-)) 
  • Don't interrupt them and make them feel like they need to respond to your interruption. Resist the temptation to correct people - it may lead to a rathole you don't need or care about.

So think fast - in fact you may need to think faster - to stay silent.


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