Talking can help you connect with others, but it can also destroy relationships. Here are some critical times when you should shut your mouth—before you put your foot in it.
1. When you don’t know who is around you.
No matter who or what you’re talking about, always be careful of who else is around. You may want to complain about a recent project, or simply talk about a family issue, but if you don’t know who is listening, you could say something offensive or inconsiderate.
2. When you’re surrounded by gossip.
Gossipers love to pull other people into their webs. Don’t let this happen to you. If you gossip with a gossiper, whatever you say can and will be held against you—plus, you’ll probably be the next person gossiped about.
3. When someone asks about your love life.
It’s best to keep details of your love life private, especially if you are spreading negative information about your significant other. It will only harm your relationship, and if he or she finds out you’ve been talking about them, it could end the relationship forever.
4. When someone is telling only you useful information.
You rarely get the opportunity to get ahead, so next time someone starts sharing useful information with you—and only you—stop talking! Listen to what they have to say, and start thinking how you can use the information to improve your job performance.
5. When the door is open.
It looks bad to talk behind closed doors, but talking out in the open can also lead to problems. Anytime a door is open, always picture the people standing in the hallway—just out of your sight but still in earshot. If you are comfortable talking with the door open, you better be comfortable with all your co-workers knowing what you’re talking about.
6. When someone is telling you a secret.
This is a crucial moment for you to stop talking. A secret means someone wants to confide in you, so if you jump in and start talking, the other person will think you don’t value the relationship. Instead, just be quiet and appreciate their confidence in making you their confidante.
7. When you are about to say something negative.
No one wants to hear your negativity. So, it’s time to shut up unless you have a valid concern about someone’s safety. If you’re just spewing problems and negativity, no one will take you seriously anyway. Everyone will just dismiss you and think you are too lazy to help.
8. When you’re about to lie.
Lying never really works. When you get caught you will ruin the trust you’ve built. Next time you’re tempted to lie, just don’t say anything.
9. When you’re about to make an excuse.
People who make excuses all the time are annoying. Next time someone asks you to help with a project, just focus on what you need from them to get started. This way, you will be proactive, and you will enlist them to help you get started.
10. When you want to “one-up” someone.
“One uppers” are people who always have to beat what the other person is saying. For example, if someone tells you they ran two miles, a one upper would say, “Really? I ran five.” If you’re really passionate about an activity, it’s natural to want to “one-up” someone, but hold back. It only makes you look desperate.
Next time you want to speak up, make sure what you’re saying will be a positive influence on the conversation and the person you’re speaking to. Learning when to speak and when to shut up is one of the fastest ways you can develop trust within your organization.