Your Mouth Makes You Dumb

There’s an inverse relationship between speaking and learning. The more you speak the less you learn. The only exception is when you open your mouth to ask questions. In other words, your mouth makes you dumb your ears make you smart.

Getting more suggestions

The more answers you offer the fewer suggestions you’ll get. Combine this with the tendency of others to tell you what you want to hear and you have a formula for dumb leaders and slow organizations.

Awkward silence

Silence helps others talk. During conversations, try holding your tongue just to the point of awkward silence. I’ve found, if I wait, others begin speaking just before I open my mouth. At the executive level, quickness of speech silences others.


The right amount of silence makes you seem smart. Too much silence makes you look dumb. Additionally, too much silence makes you seem withdrawn, even judgmental. It’s important to question, contribute, affirm, guide, and assign.

Stop interrupting

Research shows that powerful leaders interrupt others. Have you seen people almost waiting to be interrupted by a leader? I have. They’ve come to expect it from those in power.

Short spurts

Abbreviate the length of time you speak. If you’re a talker, it’s likely you talk too long, give too many details, and offer too many suggestions.


What personal speaking strategies can leaders employ to enhance learning and invite participation?

How do you determine how much to speak and when to listen?

keynotes and workshops

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