The more some people talk, the less they have to say about anything important. And, the more some people talk, the more I am convinced they have nothing to say. We have all met people who chatter on and on, saying many words about nothing in particular. Some people have “the gift of gab” and unfortunately, few other gifts (such as kindness, compassion, and good manners, not to mention intelligence). David and I recently attended a meeting with someone who was referred to us because he is purportedly a great salesperson, with techniques from which we could benefit by learning. However, after attending this meeting, for a period of time that seemed like an eternity, the only thing I learned about this person’s abilities was that he had a tremendous capacity to talk about himself, including sordid details of his personal life that will not be revealed in this post due to their potentially offensive nature to our readers. David, having met this person long ago, told me he was trying to “explain away” negative aspects of his life (which are, sadly for him, public knowledge), but from where I sat, none of what he said had the least bit of relevance for our meeting. I had a dear cousin, now departed, who truly had the gift of gab; in fact, she once strained her vocal cords from talking too much! (True story: Her ENT physician told her not to speak, to allow time for her over used vocal cords to heal!) The person with whom David and I met, who inspired this post, runs a similar risk of straining his voice and vocal cords, not to mention the real possibility of revealing to people other than me that the only gift he possesses is the ability to talk, talk, talk without saying anything. The moral of this post is don’t say anything if you really have nothing to say.
The last sentence of Melissa’s post is a variation of one of those things that everyone’s mother says to their children, or used to do so, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” But that virtue has gone by the wayside in a world where the presidential candidates fight it out in the gutter. And, beyond that, talking without saying anything is an epidemic as well. Having just watched too much coverage of a hurricane, the amount of words wasted turning minor events into “news” perhaps creates the impression that talking about nothing is normal. It is not. Or, it should not be. But, too many people, including the person who inspired this post, are such low self monitors – the topic of another blog sometime – that they do not realize their audience has gone from listening to them to enduring them. At least from our perspective, there are times when listening and observing are far more important than talking. As trial consultants, we try to teach attorneys to listen during jury selection and not do all the talking. But, as one who was called for jury duty, and endured an all talk and no listen voir dire by both attorneys, I know many have not yet learned this lesson. The other old adage that comes to mind from the encounter we had is “It is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Unfortunately, there are too many people who remove all doubt.