When I was growing up my dad forbid us say “shut up” to anyone. So I had to get crafty. I had to find illusory ways to get others to stop talking. A few years ago I realized I had perfected the method.

To get those around you to shut up:

  1. Pile your ideas on top of their ideas;
  2. Respond to their comments with “However” or “But” at the beginning of your sentence;
  3. Ignore their opinions; and
  4. Make sure you have the last word.

Here’s the elephant in the office: A lot of managers are pleading for their teams to be more engaged, and yet every day they tell them to shut up.

Do you see this elephant anywhere? Do you know a parent who complains “My teenage child won’t talk to me”?  Do you know a boss who has to do all the thinking because everyone else has been trained not to?


My friend John P. from Ohio says, “What you DO is more profound than what you TELL someone to do.” The best leaders use their ACTIONS to create ownership in others. One of the most powerful things we can do is examine how we respond when others are talking.

Take this challenge. Over the next two weeks as you’re listening to others:

  1. Let their ideas stand alone, free from your ideas;
  2. Create alignment by eliminating “however” and “but” from your responses;
  3. Incorporate their ideas in future conversations and plans; and
  4. Let them have the last word. (You can wrap it up with a “thank you”).

Dad was right. Telling others to shut up is destructive.

Where will you lead – where will you stomp elephants – today?

Activate Your Greatness.

Activate Your Greatness.

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