Skip to main content

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.


Popular posts from this blog

Measure f-ing everything, and assume f-ing nothing!! - Or how mentoring ruined lives :-(

I've been really enjoying the Freakonomics podcast of late. This episode and the lesson we should take a away from it, was a stark reminder of one of the most important things we should be doing - but often don't - in building products or making any decisions: measuring the impact of absolutely everything we do, including the things that seem obviously good.

I recommend listening to the podcast if you have the time, but here's the summary. Stephen Dubner describes the Cambridge Sommerville Youth Study. The impact of social intervention programs in general is hard to measure and so they seldom are. This was the first attempt at measuring the impact over a long period of time.

It's a great story and there are a few good take-aways, but here's the main one: troubled or at-risk youth that received mentoring (good mentoring!) had worse life outcomes across every dimension than the kids that were left alone. Despite the recipients saying that the mentoring was incredibl…

Yup - humans still lack humanity

Every once in a while, I'm reminded that humans can be completely lacking in humanity.

My wife had the following experience yesterday on her ride back home. She got on the train and found a seat. The train was unusually crowded and it looked a lot of people had to stand for a long ride. An elderly Asian gentleman carrying a few things in both hands, was looking for spot, started to complain smilingly about the train being so full and stood in the aisle at the back of the carriage some seats away from her.

She expected someone closer to gentleman in the aisle (lots of younger people on the train) to give him their seat.

No one did.

The train started, and it was clear the man was having a lot of trouble standing up. Then at the next stop there was actually an announcement saying the train was full so please give up your seats to people who needed them.

Still nobody moved.

My wife got up walked to the end of the train and asked the gentleman to go over to her seat. She still couldn&#…

Whimsy when I changed my profile picture...

I changed by profile picture at work.

Later in the day, two people on my team had changed their profile pictures to these.. :-)

It made my day!

I changed my profile pic again today. Let's see how fast anyone catches on this time. :-)