The Subtle Art Of Shutting The Fuck Up

Woman in dungarees sitting on dock looking to the left whil sun sets in the horizon and reflects over the water in Olsztyn / Unsplash

Take two minutes to eavesdrop on a conversation and you’ll be appalled at the rate of which people talk over each other. A type of verbal sword fight, the object is often who can assert the grandest counterpoint instead of fostering meaningful communication.

From our vantage point, we think our communication styles work. Sure, every now and then we fall out of line but generally speaking, we do a fine job moving things along. At least that’s what we tell ourselves.

However, from an outsider’s perspective, eloquent communication is as scarce as plutonium. Too many words, too much emotion, and too little space all attribute in conversations continually breaking down.

Ultimately, everything in life can be found in silence. During our most difficult moments, we relish in the quiet. It’s the space to be able to look inward to the spiritual compass we wouldn’t otherwise hear. Silence is so rare that even the place most known for it — the library — is becoming obsolete.

We can take on an alternative approach, however, as peace and quiet are very much in our control. We can provide is as a gift to someone, which could be far more valuable than anything you can purchase at Target.

The reason why silence is so important is you provide two values everyone is desperately seeking.


When you bulldoze a person’s previous remark with your unrelenting opinion, you’ve effectively communicated what they just said didn’t matter — which they then associate in their mind that they don’t matter, either. One of the top reasons why relationships fall apart is one or both partners don’t feel truly heard by the other. This act of stepping over a person’s words to insert your statement has a far greater impact than you realize — and it happens more frequently than you think.

Our default human condition has a need for significance. We could look to provide it to others first, but that’s not usually how it goes. We want to protect ourselves so we look to put on our oxygen mask first. While that’s a fine strategy when gasping for breath on an airplane, most of our everyday conversations don’t happen within the context of altitude challenges. We’re right there, in the flesh, conversing with others. It’s our move — we can either play checkers or think one step ahead and play chess.

Providing someone more than enough space to share what they wish to share makes a large deposit in the relationship bank. By simply doing nothing, you’ve gained a substantial amount of trust. You can’t forget your eye contact and body language, but the most notable distinction is you shutting your gateway to the world — your language — off in their presence. Not much more trumps this glorious action. It’s the easiest way to let people know that they matter.


Human beings also have a fundamental need for contribution. Being able to add value to something greater than ourselves is one of the primary checkpoints to happy people’s showcase of joy.

The key area to acknowledge here is while it might seem prudent to relate to everything another person is saying, you’re robbing them of being able to contribute to you by doing so. A quick rebuttal, sharp worldview, or even an expression of relatedness in response to what someone shares gives forth no room for them to make a difference for you. The primary reason we don’t make more of a difference as human beings is because we don’t let people do so.

I don’t care if you already know the strategy they’re recommending, or if you’ve heard what they’re saying before, anything someone says to you is still new at that moment — it’s up to you to transform your view of it until you can find the value.

Insecurity gets in the way of us withholding our opinion or putting a lid on what we know. The most secure people in the world keep quiet while others are speaking, sifting through the sand of their message. It’s not every time they find a diamond but I can guarantee it’s more often than those who only listen to the tune of their own thoughts.

Until next time,

Keep calm and shut the fuck up. TC mark


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