Is your mouth a trap?
There is a famous quote which is commonly attributed to Abraham Lincoln, which says, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”
I am in no way insinuating to hide ignorance in silence or to cop out of necessary conversation by being quiet. However, if you have ever got yourself or others into a tight corner by speaking ill-advisedly (which I have done so many times), then you need to consider this.
I was once told, you have two ears and one mouth to remind you to listen twice as much as you speak. I heard the story of a man who was bidding for a huge textile contract against two other well known suppliers. He got himself ready to present on the merits of his product and was well prepared to highlight its advantages and dispel any doubts about it. On the day of the presentation, he woke up with laryngitis and could not cancel his attendance, so he went in and tried to speak to no avail. He eventually wrote on a note he had lost his voice and so the company president offered to read out his presentation and let the board discuss it. He stood there nodding, smiling and gesturing as they discussed. When the multimillion dollar contract was awarded, it was given to his company without him ever saying a word.
It goes without saying that what we say and how we say it has a huge impact on how others perceive us, and most times it is better to truly listen and let the other person do the talking so that we don’t walk ourselves into the trap which is the making of our own mouth.