How to keep your mouth shut

I have a disorder of a kind known as “can not keep my mouth shut.” If I think someone isn’t being honest, or even if I just disagree with them strongly, my arm raises, and my mouth engages, well before my brain can calculate the possible damage.

I have been in successful recovery for years and I am here to share what I’ve learned.

As a rule, if you insist on always speaking your mind, you will inevitably find yourself in an environment where everyone hates you. Most people can not handle the truth (or what you believe is the truth). And the more you shove it in their face, the easier it is for them to ignore you. You simply become the person who always complains. Your ideas will be shot down simply because of the reputation of the mouth they come from.

The trick to keeping your mouth shut is this: put the desire to effect positive change above your instinct to tell people they’re wrong. The later almost never leads to the former.

Back in my early days at Microsoft I worked on strong teams where you were expected to have opinions. If you saw something stupid happening you were obligated to raise your hand, say “I think this is stupid and here’s why.” If you were right, you were applauded no matter how senior the people in the room were. I argued with group managers, VPs, and many other tough, smart people far more senior than I was. If I was wrong, I was dismissed, but not scolded. I might have heard praise for not being afraid. I thrived in this environment and assumed this was how the world worked.

But later,  in a new job at Microsoft in a group known as MSTE, I discovered a different world. No one spoke their mind in public. Few people worked hard or asked tough questions. Quality of work, and morale, was low.  I felt obligated to mention these facts as often and as loudly as possible to leadership. I even expected to be rewarded for telling people how bad things were. Why wouldn’t they want to hear this? I thought.

Before I knew it, I was that guy. The guy who always complains.

In my egocentric view, the work around me was well beneath the bar. But I didn’t stop to think the group had its own bar, it’s own culture and it was not my job to set it. And I was far from having enough respect from anyone to be seen as a leader, which would be required to change the culture anyway.

It took months of suffering to realize I was in a different culture with different expectations. It blew my mind to realize there were other cultures at all. To achieve the same positive effects my opinionated nature had early in my career, I’d have to adopt a very different approach.

I also realized in the past, in other groups, progress happened not simply because I was right and took a stand (as much as my ego wished it to be true). It happened because my boss, or his/her boss, listened to my points and took action, or granted me the power to do so. Having an idea changes nothing unless someone with sufficient power, and genuine interest, does something about it. The idea alone is never enough. Nor is saying it out loud.

In the movie Glengarry Glenn Ross, Blake (played by Alec Baldwin) gives perhaps the meanest lecture of all time to a bunch of salesmen. Why is this lecture possible? Why didn’t they ignore him or beat him up? Is it Alec’s strong chin and trim physique? No, it’s because the owners of the company asked him to do it. He’s allowed to open his mouth, and speak a certain kind of truth, however unnecessarily mean and adversarial it is, because he has the support of the people in power (You can watch this amazing scene here – NSFW). You could never successfully behave this way unless someone with more power then you allowed you to.


There’s another scene in Glengarry Glen Ross, where a salesman (played in the movie by Al Pacino) yells at the sale manager (played by Kevin Spacey), never to open your mouth until you know the shot. If you don’t know the angle being played, anything you say might ruin the plan (you can watch the scene here).

This is a great rule to follow before you raise objections or offer big ideas. No matter how right you are, if you care about effecting change, you should never open your mouth without some sense of who will agree with you and who won’t. If you can anticipate the angles and responses, and judge, even by guessing, if there is a 80%, 20% or 0% percent chance anyone in good standing will follow your lead in support of what you say, you know whether it’s worth opening your mouth. It’s a world of difference of perception when someone respected says, after you speak, “he might be right” and when there’s only silence. And of course, in most cases your percentages go up if you raise your objections in private, rather than in a large meeting where egos are at stake.

These days, as an independent, I’m invited to visit and speak to different groups every week, in different cities and countries around the world. I depend on my ability to evaluate the culture I’m in each and every time.

Of course there are times when the BS has piled up too high and you have to speak the truth no matter the consequences. Forcing an issue can be the only way to get it the attention it deserves. But pick your battles. If a year goes by and you haven’t taken a single stand, I’d likely call you a coward (Nothing in 12 months was worth making a stink over? You have to draw your sword now and then to remind people you have one). But if you’re taking a stand every day, you’re either a glutton for punishment, an egomaniac, or too stupid to realize you’re working for the wrong people.

How to say things well, including the tough stuff, is another matter entirely and one I’ll save for another post.

Meanwhile, to help with my own recovery: how do you decide when to open your mouth, and when to keep it shut? At work or at home?

214 Responses to “How to keep your mouth shut”

  1. Angie Kasprzak

    I appreciate all of your comments.

  2. Emily Montès

    Wow, thanks. I have moved to a place where the national culture is like MSTE compared to the Microsoft of your earlier days, as you cited.

    I found your site while looking for a way to defuse a power imbalance in a business relationship, using silence followed by, when pressed, the briefest statement of my point of view. I have found, to my shock and dismay, that as a person with no social status in this country, I shouldn’t speak, most of the time. However, I do need to bring about a change, so I’m looking for ways to do this without appearing rude in a society where politeness is everything.

    This could be a blog heading or book title: how to lead when you have NO vested power.

    I use the words shock and dismay, because the in business relationship concerned, I am the “client” or “service user” in a service that relies upon a frank exchange of views, but am not permitted to speak my mind, even in order to make this “service” function more effectively. I have moved to a country where service provision isn’t key, respect for protocol is. According to their protocol, those with no power don’t speak. I will be using the “less is more” approach in my meeting later today to terminate the service with immediate effect, without getting sucked into a cycle of complaining, blame, justification and power play!

    Wish me luck, I’m going to need a lot of it.
    Regards, Emily

  3. Largemouth

    Thank God for this. I am killing myself trying not to get on everyone’s nerves. How can I turn things around after I Have created this bad reputation? I need to fix this and keep my mouth shut until I can get into a job where dissenting opinion is viewed as an opportunity for improvement.

  4. Hey...Buddy

    I, too, googled “how to keep my mouth shut” and am so glad there are others out there like me. I think there is hope for all of us just for the fact that we know that it is us sometimes that is the problem. I often find it is my comfort level that allows me to speak my mind. When I am comfortable with a situation, an environment, a person, I tend to be myself. Myself is one is will tell it like it is and that is often the wrong person to be, but I am trying, hence this site.

    The reason I looked into this site was not because of a work scenario, as I do ‘pick my battles’ in those situations, it was actually a private situation where I thought I was commiserating with someone like me — a smartass — and jokingly pointed out that he was clearly one of us and he was totally offended. Long story short, I really need to think more before I open my pie-hole. The funny thing is that when I am reserved and guarded and mind my tongue, I am then accused of having nothing to say.

    Blank stare.

    I continue to be mindful and work on it.

    1. brenda

      I originally googled ‘how to keep my mouth shut’ nearly a year ago and lots of comfort in the fact that there seem to be lots of other people out there struggling with this issue also – I think it’s a personality defect. I haven’t learned my lesson though – here I am reading all of these posts again – a year later in the same boat again. I am not sure why I care so much about trying to make things go well or ‘right’ in my opinion. No one else cares. And saying exactly what I think doesn’t win me any admiration. I am just branded a complainer. Everyone seems to be fine with sub par work from colleagues and vendors. Except I always feel like if I let some things slide – my perfectionist boss then yells at me for things not being right. No win situation. I am trying to keep my mouth shut but IT IS SO HARD!

      1. Sunny

        I agree. I googled it also, after a meeting at work and thinking: here I am again–in a place where people aren’t trusting my judgment (or me). I have to keep my mouth closed sometimes, but it is true, I just feel the need to raise the bar. I could feel it –that I’m being labeled the person who always complains.
        My expectations though are that things should work smoother or more efficiently.

  5. Ggg

    Hello I have the same problem and it has gotten me in trouble. I have also hurt many people unintentionally because there are times when ppl don’t want to hear the truth. I’m sure we can all agree that there are times when someone has said something which was true, yet we didn’t appreciate it. First thing I did to correct the problem was closey Fb account, since j was always venting and making a dork of myself. I then got involved in other classes and activities do I would have less time on my hands to rant about everything that’s wrong with the world. As human being we have a need to express ourselves, but we have a greater need to feel accepted and loved. So now j keep myself busy doing other things, and now that’s what I talk about. I also stopped watching the news and any and every negative TV shows, movies, YouTube videos etc. I prefer to be happy than speak my mind. There’s my two cents. Namaste

    1. mj

      Don’t feel bad! I’ve done the same thing. I decided that I need to find other things to do that express myself because I am making everyone hate me. Just wanted you to know that your comment helped me. I was feeling bad today.

  6. mj

    I found this site after googling “how to keep my mouth shut.” I am one of those people who always complains and has an opinion. I have found that I have ostracized myself at work. I need to stop. I’m grateful that I found this site. It has given me comfort. Also, the comments of others on this site has helped me too.

  7. David

    I also found this site while searching for “keeping your mouth shut” This is a great article, and the comments are excellent and helpful. I read them all. Thank you to everyone who commented, and to the author for putting this out there.

    I agree with the contributors that said the only way to get around working in an environment where you don’t like what is going on is to have your own business. At that point, if you are successful enough to be able to somewhat choose your customers, you will find the most satisfaction. It doesn’t mean you can be a jerk, and open your mouth and say everything that comes across your mind, but it does allow you to disagree more, because you have more power.

    Success is the best revenge. Although, revenge is not what you should be seeking. You should be seeking to build something that hopefully helps other people (you, your family first, and something beyond that too). You should be seeking to fill the human need to create.

    If you do stay in the corporate world, I agree with those who stated that while at work, there is no freedom of speech. You are theirs for the time you are on the job. You have to be careful how you try to help the company. You should never go over your boss, unless it is something clearly illegal, and provable. An blatantly incompetent CEO or C-level management is not always a good reason to put your job on the line. Look for a new job instead. If you are great at what you do, and your superiors SUSPECT you don’t look too highly upon them, you are going to be in trouble, and they will want to get rid of you.

  8. Billybill

    YUP i got the big mouth but i dont care because in todays world others do not care except to speak out aginst me because they know i will not speak back finally ended that with two neighbors months ago. Showed them actual instances others they knew doingt something i did they called me out on BUT said nothing. NOW i’m making huge cash and all of sudden i got the enimies as like talking to me more saying hi to me ???


  9. Tee

    I am a student at a community college. No place is more open and authentic, right? I am toe to toe with one instructor or another over the lack of collaboration every term. I try, I really do. I try to keep my mouth shut. This time she put us down for not taking a voluntary practice quiz telling us 90% of her other class did. Then she asks several closed questions in a row contradicting the student each time to the point volunteered to answer her next question. Then another student says my opinion is all wrong he just can’t say what it is. Then I get in trouble for telling him to choose a point and support his argument against it, without which his tyrade is without merit.

    So it’s not my fault. Wrong. I still have to accept responsibility for the outcome if I truly want to be a community leader just like the author. My behavior did not rise to a level of skill that allowed me to communicate effectively. Had I used my OARS and affirmed the young man’s opinion before calling him out in such an unskillful manner my true objective could have been achieved. Had I succeeded in keeping my mouth shut long enough to give my words proper consideration before speaking I may have been more successful.

    1. Tee

      Correction line 6 …. contradicting each student to the point [no one] volunteered to answer her next question.

  10. Roadster

    Just came across this article and all your posts and I’m so, so, so relieved to know that I’m not alone here. In fact, I think my problems are a combination of the issues you’re all facing; talking too much about myself and other people, voicing my strong opinions at work and out of work – all to the point where I feel nobody at work (and in some cases even in my personal life) even likes me, but that they tolerate me because they have to.

    In my case though, I think the work problems stemmed because nobody was listening to my advice or guidance when they were asking for it, but now I feel as though I need to ram it down their throats in a desperate bid to get them to listen. After reading one of the posts above, I know now that this is a sure sign that I should leave – they didn’t value my opinion before and now I’m behaving like this, they’re certainly not going to value it now.

    Thank you for this article and all of your posts. I am currently having counselling and will be sure to raise these feelings there.

  11. anon July2015

    I just stumbled upon this, as I also have to admit to myself in my youngish adulthood (I’ll be 30 this year) that I’m learning that this article is so true– you gotta learn to keep your opinions to yourself. I NEVER thought I would ever think that, but I learned the hard way on more than on occasion.

    I have been shunned from a workplace I was dedicated to for years (I politely called my boss out for repeated bounced paychecks and had my contract renewal revoked two days later), and I was dismissed from a graduate program (despite excellent grades and strong performance reviews from practicums) for speaking my mind when I was being unquestionably mistreated by faculty (turns out they can lie about students and fully get away with it).

    It drives me C R A Z Y that horrible people can get away with terrible, selfish, and atrocious behavior at other good people’s expense.

    I think the key is this: keep your mouth shut unless you have another influential person to back you up, and unless you can guarantee beyond the shadow of a doubt that your complaints won’t get you into trouble — in the workplace or elsewhere.

  12. Dave

    Until companies get brave enough to bring in 360 degree appraisals then there is a chance that you will have a terrible boss. If you can knuckle down and keep in good with him/her then you will make it through to the day when they get found out, and the new boss is you. On that day, remember the lesson, and encourage your staff to speak out to you while you start the process again with your new boss.

    1. Dave

      I’m sorry for the post above… I should have just kept my mouth shut. LOL.

      1. TERI

        Good one Dave! I needed that laugh…..

  13. Maria

    I just want to say wow I thought I was the only one who actually knows I have this problem and am not trying to be a total pain in the butt! I actually am really interested in sharing what I believe to be best, but I am “that girl” in many places… with my siblings, in groups. It really sucks because I really am a good and nice person… But wow do I need to learn how to show it better! People completely disregard what I say as “that’s just Maria” and never even give it any thought.
    Also, as I asked another person who posted, do any of you think you are highly sensitive people? HSP? I really think there is something to it now that I have been reading up on it. I believe people think I have a choice to have such strong opinions that they nearly overtake me, but I think I am just an extroverted HSP and I need to find ways of controlling what is naturally occurring in me and not in other people. Thanks for letting me know I am not alone.

    1. Dee

      So I have the same issue. At the end of the day it’s about me doing a great job and my colluegues not so much. They watch tv and read magazines while I run my ass off and I just can’t keep quiet. But I do see what you mean, if it makes not change afterword, which it doesn’t, then I might as well stop. I sometimes feel like having a stroke because all the pressure is put on me because I am the only one actually doing my job and getting results. If everyone did their bit, I wouldn’t need to voice my opinions the whole time. I cannot handle lazy people and yet they earn so much more than I do. I have taken it up with my manager and he doesn’t take me seriously but only increase my workload as the men don’t even respond to the management requests. I too will print the note out. Just wasting my breath with no changes. Thank you for the insight. Good luck to all.

    2. Stephen Lincoln

      Hi Maria,

      Your post about HSP got me to thinking and I googled it. I came across an article by Janine Ramsey, founder of Sensitivity Style, who expouses a new model supported by scientific research that’s designed to help people with differing levels of sensitivity live and work together more respectfully and successfully. Her article is a follow-up to our interview with Elaine Aron, who pioneered the concept of Highly Sensitive People (HSP).

      Does this description fit you?

      “They are intuitive visionaries, able to see the big picture, creative, aware of and thoughtful to the needs of others, good influences on the social climate, vigilant with quality, highly conscientious, loyal, able to pick up on subtleties in the environment and in interpersonal communications, and are often gifted.’

      Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind speaks of the future belonging to right-brained people, people with what he calls “high concept” and “high touch”, capabilities of intuition, empathy, compassion, creativity, ability to see the big picture; functions based in the right side of the brain.

      If interested, here is the link to the article.

      1. Maria

        I was revisiting a piece I had shared with friends about HSP, when I saw this response! So sorry! YES, this is a great article too. I found myself bullied and “made to feel less than” because of my sensitive outlook. What am I saying???? Even as an adult this has caused issues.
        Thank you for sharing this.

  14. Big T

    Thanks for this article. It’s good to know that I am not alone. I wish we could all go into a meet up group for this. I am in the NYC area, anyone else ?

  15. Stephen Lincoln

    A comment that was made about Highly Sensitive People got me to thinking. So, I googled it. I found this article.

    Does this sentence describe any of you?

    “The research of Dr Elaine Aron and others shows that HSP have many qualities of great value to the workplace. “They are intuitive visionaries, able to see the big picture, creative, aware of and thoughtful to the needs of others, good influences on the social climate, vigilant with quality, highly conscientious, loyal, able to pick up on subtleties in the environment and in interpersonal communications, and are often gifted. In short, they are ideal employees”, says Dr Elaine Aron in The Highly Sensitive Person, 1991. ”

    “Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind speaks of the future belonging to right-brained people, people with what he calls “high concept” and “high touch”, capabilities of intuition, empathy, compassion, creativity, ability to see the big picture; functions based in the right side of the brain.”

    “From one end of the performance continuum to the other, sensitive, perceptive people have the potential to be the best or worst performers depending on the conditions, due to their enhanced ability to detect and deeply process subtleties in the environment.”

    “If you want to know what needs to be done to create a healthy workplace environment that will bring out the best in all your people, ask your highly sensitive people! They will tell you things you may never have thought of…”

    “Those with out-dated thinking might still say that people with the trait are a liability for an organisation. But smart organisations of the Conceptual Age see people with this innate ability as a rare and valuable asset. They foster and utilise their highly sensitive, perceptive employees’ unique abilities to achieve success at an individual, organisational, community and global level.”

    “They have shifted their cultural bias, implemented a zero tolerance for discrimination towards sensitive people, included high sensory processing sensitivity as an important dimension of their diversity management strategy, educated their organisation about differing levels of sensitivity style, upskilled their managers to know how to bring out the best in their sensitives…”

  16. Afshan

    best article i must say

  17. KoltirasRip

    I found this place when I looked up the phrase, ‘How to train myself to shut up at work.’

    Everything about the article is true. My problem was that people said I argued, rather than complaining. I never went to management to speak my mind about how people were slacking or how we could all do better…I, instead, always felt the need to justify myself.

    In my world, the WHY someone does/says something is equally important to WHAT was done, so giving both facets to the answer was part of my nature. Turns out, the WHY answer p1sses certain people off, and it’s usually the ones responsible for whether I keep my job.

    They said I always argued. I was told at one point to literally “Just sit down and SHUT UP.” by my manager. I have never been so incensed in my LIFE. If I didn’t have the worry of jail-time, I’d have jumped onto the table and kicked the old bastard in the head for it.

    I don’t feel like I would’ve had the need to justify everything I did if the people around me weren’t so dead-set on inventing the reasons why on their own, and making false statements about my intentions. You can’t make $hit up about why I did something and then establish it as canon in your head. It’s absolutely ridiculous. How am I supposed to keep my mouth shut when someone “superior” to you is factually making things up about you, and speaking those lies out loud?

    I did the only thing I knew to and quit. Hell with that place and those people.

    1. TERI

      I can totally relate. I had the exact situation but was forced to eat it b/c I really needed my job which I had over 7 years invested in. Since then my “superior” has been terminated and I am still there. Karma is a bitch. But I learned a valuable lesson, the company and higher ups don’t want you pointing out ANYTHING unless they want to do it themselves. You are not considered a “team player” unless you keep your mouth shut.
      I do have desire to eventually leave.

    2. Right

      I completely understand.This has happened to me my whole life even when positive things happen. Like I can’t develop original thoughts; that my justifications for doing something has to be the same as yours or others, that an emotion or experience has the same effect on me, or that I have to have your same faith to believe in your God.

  18. TERI

    I also have to keep this struggle up on the home front. My husband only likes to hear his own voice and isn’t happy unless you agree w/ him. So for the sake of stopping blowout fights in front of my children. I keep my mouth shut. When he pisses me off, I get in the car and drive. I don’t think this can go on much longer. As a result, I have 3 bleeding ulcers and other stomach problems…..holding it in for years takes a toll on your body.

  19. Anita Leary

    I typed in “How to keep your mouth shut” and found this article. I can’t seem to learn my lesson. Every time I know my mouth is acting, while my brain sits in stunned silence, I get so mad at myself. I want to end this, and I’m trying, but I keep doing it. Why? I know it’s not good.

    1. teri

      I have struggled w/ this for a long time and have learned the very hard way. I literally meditate a few days a week and pray to be quiet. I feel like I am biting my tongue at work, at home, and even w/ my son’s coaches. I am to the point where I have to talk to myself and remind myself to keep my words in my head. It is so exhausting. It isn’t b/c I am a loud mouth person who wants to voice my opinion al the time, I feel it is b/c I am constantly dealing w/ difficult people who only want to hear their own voices. I have to convince myself it’s not worth speaking b/c no one cares what I say anyway.

  20. That guy

    Thanks for all the folks around here. Seems like a small virtual world we found our “species”. I have HSP (i think?). My story consists of kicking out of 2 jobs and trouble in my marriage. I have been often told by my colleagues and good friends to “not provide opinion only when solicited”, “dont be pushy”, ofcourse “shut up”. I control it for a while but then regress back to Old state. is there a workplace suited for people like us? I am going to consult a therapist as well to get expert opinion.

  21. halfluke

    So now honesty, speak up for our rights, tell the truth no matter the consequences, are a “condition” to recover from… What a world we are living in!

  22. Chris

    For those that have seen a therapist, any particular type or certification? What has the therapist told you? I have been asked by my employer to come up with a plan to remediate my situation. I would pay the money for a therapist if I thought or knew it would help.

  23. Donna

    I loved this article and have wondered why I consistently had bad outcomes when speaking up. Another possibly related issue is being a direct communicator, not tactless but direct. While I agree with the article you can’t always run things past your boss or his boss. Sometimes but not always. Personally I end up finding out the political angles after a mistake, not before.

  24. Calendula

    Struggled to keep my mouth shut. In a crowded parking lot, there was a car waiting for another car to slowly back out of their space, do I went around them both. As I passed by, the driver waiting vehicle screamed, literally. His face was red, his jugular veins were popping, at me: “Hey! What are you doing??” In a lame attempt to diffuse the situation, I played dumb…”um, turning left” (pointing left)

    Then the law of the universe kicked in: this guy parked with his car facing mine in the parking lot! We avoided eye contact while getting out of our cars and heading towards the supermarket. He was only three steps ahead of me, and I felt an overwhelming desire to taunt and antagonize him. I REALLY badly wanted to say, “Testosterone, much?” My mouth began to form the words, and I felt a breath inhale in readiness to speak. But nay, I held it inside and chose not to make it worse. Instead I blazed invisible holes into the back of his head with my with my laser eyes. I threw imaginary grenades into his path. With any luck, he felt my vengeance!

    But I managed to stay quiet. 😾🚘

  25. Jordan

    hey y’all! Like many of you, I have a hard time keeping my noise maker quiet. I have ADHD.. I get to the point at times, where I annoy myself! I find what helps the most, is having a couple friends that are willing to listen and explain to them what you’re going through. Then… Wait for it… Ask them for help! Ask them to be an accountability partner that will tell you when you’re going too far or help you realize enough is enough. After awhile, your instincts come into play and you slowly progress. I don’t know if anyone on this page is religious, but there’s a verse in the Bible that says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Good luck everyone! Many thanks to the writers.

  26. solesman

    Wow, this is me 100%. It’s gotten so bad for me at work, I’ve even contemplated quitting. I know I should just shut the hell up but I end up spouting off eventually. No one likes me there.

    1. Rosie

      Gosh, sounds like me 100%. I just couldn’t take it anymore and quit my job. I regret it a little because I liked my job and now I can’t find one. I’m pretty sure they’re going to miss me.

    2. Joseph Arndt

      I have the same problem at my work my 3rd shift is so negative and it cases me to have low esteam and i sometimes talk to myshelf and a coustomer sees me and gives me a crazy look and i make a stupid mistake i yell a liitle what u want so they talk to a manager about me

    3. Liz

      This is my problem. I just have to voice what I think is right and can’t back down. I keep getting into fights with people because I believe I’m right I’m my big headed mind. I’m trying to stop and this article is exactly what I need. It’s me that wants the voice everything in a group that isn’t ready for it.

    4. Joe Benedict

      I’m seeing this way after your post. How did it turn out? I left a six and a half year job in 2016 and went back to cooking. It was hard at first but have adjusted. Never “Just shut the hell up” Speaking out against wrongfull doing is never wrong. Persuading others to help in the cause is difficult. I tried once and everyone was on board until it got real. Then they were all worried about their job because they had families to take care of. I understand that, but that mentality is also why the corporations have an edge up on us. No one wants to stir the pot because it might effect them in a negative way. The only way to change things is by speaking out and being heard. It’s the least or perhaps the Most we can do to help ourselves and our fellow employees.

  27. Ms.'d Potential

    Me too… I can’t tell you how many positions I’ve been in – 3, maybe more, where I’ve been penned as someone who should be moved into a management or even executive level and missed out because of this. For me, my intentions are good, sincere and kind but end up hurting someone and ultimately myself and my family(loss of income & stability). I see now and hope to continue to see that it’s best to just keep my mouth shut. It’s tough because I want to help people but I will continue my ‘recovery’. Thanks for the post

    1. Ms.'d Potential

      Just a note. I’ve been more aware of it the last 10 years or so and have improved – A LOT. This post just reminds me, I’m not alone and to continue to work on it. Thanks for the constructive comments.

      1. Caroline

        How did you get help?

      2. CBuitrago

        Hi Ms.’d Potential,
        I am in the same situation. Please share with us how you managed to keep your mouth shut.

  28. Adrianna

    Currently, I am in a relationship and it seems that I don’t know how to keep my mouth shut on anything. He said that I make him feel like shit sometimes because I don’t hold my tongue. I genuinely don’t know how to stop my mouth and I am willing to try anything! I love him more than anything… I really don’t want to continue to make him feel that way… please… any advice you can… please…

    1. Nina

      If you’re constantly irritated or critical of someone you may be with the wrong person. I’ve learned that.

      1. San

        I thought i liked person alot and i was excited so my mind was like remembering everything…such unbelivable stupid feeling…he would kiss me and i would feel like im floating ….. Kind of figure his energy was doing it…

        1. Joe Benedict

          There have been 2 women that I recal that I have kissed where I experienced an electrical charge (for lack of better description), It went from mouth right down to you know where. Almost couldn’t believe it at first but it was real. A surge of energy. I think perhaps there is smeone for everyone and when you find them you’ll know by the kiss. Hope all worked out for you, and I want to let you know that if it didn’t there may be someone out there that is right for you. Don’t give up hope.

    2. Michelle Guerra

      Same here… I have figured out I know nothing about cultures as the author put it. I also always was considered and I thrived this way, however its disabling. He says just stop and I do and then he gets upset so its a work in progress. Always remember this, its not you against him, its you both vs the problem. Ego will make us offended to good sense.

    3. Joe Benedict

      Probably to late by the time I’m reading this, but I would say just don’t nag. If you want something done be willing to do it yourself and ask him to help you do it. Great way to spend time together and get stuff done without him feeling burdoned to do it.

  29. Wendy

    OMGness! This is me!!! Can this behavior be corrected to the point where I can rewrite my wrongs?

  30. Sadafski

    Thank you for this article. That’s exactly how I am. And it’s really tiring. Really would love to keep my mouth shut! 😞

  31. Richard M. Boyce

    I agree 100%. It’s all about your Audience. You can’t reason, educate, or inspire a Rock, a Log, or Sea Weed. If your surrounded by Numskulls and Neanderthals, its best to keep your Wisdom to yourself !

    1. Roy

      Sad that you see everyone except yourself in your hat way. Perhaps you need new glasses.

  32. Lady u

    I need help on how to keep my mouth shut and mind my own business in office.

  33. Deborah

    Listen again to “The Serenity Prayer”. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.

  34. Omari akil Midgette

    In July 2 2016 I got in trouble for telling my business to my sister friend I did. Told her the wrong things yes I said I am upset and angry yes. My sister was upset with me for that. I was 23 years old then. I know better to run my mouth off to people yes I do. I didn’t ride my bike for two days. I don’t want to do that again no. I shot it down rejected the repeat yes. I am doing better at 24 yes I am. I ain’t going to repeat anymore no. Just don’t act up anymore

  35. Tightropewalker

    I struggle with this very issue. I am extremely opinionated and strive to go against popular opinions even when I agree with them. I think it is because I hate myself and the society I live in. I learned in my twenties that 99% of people are not worth paying a year attention to. I learned I my thirties that 99% of my opinions are not worth listening to. In my forties I have realized that everything is open to interpretation and everyone will interpret things as they have been conditioned to. So speak your mind and stop giving a Shit because all of this life is a joke anyway. Fuck your job and fuck your life. Oh…..and fuck your kids too. All of you.

    1. Nina

      You seem to be so angry that you’re at risk of harming yourself or someone else. Please seek therapy.

    2. Chad Roberts

      I pretty much agree. Life though is about one’s Spiritual Growth. I used to be a people pleaser. I am not interested in pleasing others any longer. There are too many people who lie, cheat and steel, and get away with it because in front of others they are nice to your face, then stab you in the back when your back is turned, and others arr not watching.

    3. 666Heretic

      Hi, listen man personally I hear ya, truly I do, only someone who has had a tough childhood or bullied badly or anything else terrible has that view, you see everyone striding by and you can’t help but despise and mistrust every single of them, because you are constantly on guard of which vermin or their offspring is going too attack, insult or hurt you next, but you CAN beat this view dude, I have, it’s all about being true too yourself, you are priority no.1, no one else matters but yourself, imagine society become a blur when you’re out in the open and when and if someone starts their shit on you, feed it right back too them, then dish out even more. You know as much as I still have a bit of mistrust of “people” even I have too admit there’s a handful of good ones out there. I hope your life gets better, I’m sorry you’ve been hurt too the point of this much anger, good luck.

  36. TheTalker

    This is me! The Talker! I sometimes say the wrong thing intentionally to see the response I get. I am starting to think I do this because of my own insecurities. Like someone post earlier, The Serenity Prayer, puts a lot of this useless chatter into perspective! Praying about this right now!

  37. Caroline

    Thank you for this article. I can’t stop talking, I think I have been like this most of my life, I get some kind of “high” for it. Please tell me where I can get help. I am so addicted to facebook and my closer friends stopped liking my comments that are meant to help them. After all my talking, “I crash” and feel aweful, I have even tried to wear a watch to remind myself not to talk, right now I work almost by myself which helps me, I remember being in a church class and the teacher pointing out that I raised my hand to much, I feel like even God wants me to stop and my influence can hurt people even though I mean well.

    1. Talkative

      I feel the same way…I really pray 1 day I will change..because being like this is a very lonely place to be..and I love having friend,I love being around people but because the way that I am by not being able to filter my conversation get me the strange looks and people not really wanting to be around me or me feeling that I don’t want to be around them so I won’t do or say something crazy….can some1 please help me with this..please if you can teach me how to hold back and not just blurt out the 1st thing that comes to my mind…this would help me a great deal…I’m not a bad person but like I said having no filter makes me look like one…

    2. San

      Sorry to hear this…wish you know there is people that would listen no matter what you want to say….
      Maybe you are around some selfish people deep down.. Maybe they have narciciatic personalities …care only about them self…wish you all well…

  38. Big Mouth from the south

    I was just fired from my 1 month job today last job was 3 months. It was going so well and my boss gave me a great review just last week. My new co-workers were constantly praising me for taking charge and getting things done around the office. Then BAM Im handed the pink slip. Reason: We fill you aren’t a good fit for the company. People came to management and said you were negative and complained a lot. But in all actuality I was just trying to help and I felt I was speaking on behalf of the cowardly staff. Besides that things were improving and getting done. No one complained about that. I thought thats what they hired me for, at least the job description said so. I am not one to sit by and let things pile up. I’m also a doer, get the job done. But I believe my mouth engages along with my work ethic and thats what constantly makes me lose my jobs. I actually just realized a lot about myself through this article. Thank you for the post and thank you for letting me vent! Back to the job search for me :-)

  39. Fired a lot

    I feel so much compassion for all of you, especially those who don’t know why this keeps happening. I have had 40 jobs, been fired ten times, learned to leave before it got to that point. I am well educated and clearly present well in the interview (or they wouldn’t hire me). Many times I was hired to “take charge”, “fix things”, “improve sales or customer service “, etc. When you begin, the people who created or ignored the issues in the first place are going to get bent out of shape. No matter how competent, cheery, successful, politically adept you are, the work world is,l a popularity contest. I wish that had been explained to me back in high school. Chances are the person who hired you is just doing as told and no one there really wants to rock the boat to improve things at all. If you are like me, you see the big picture, the problems, the positives, the solutions and you think, I’ll be critical but I’ll also offer the solution. Trust me, you must wait to be asked what you think. The most success I have had has been 20 years;operating my own business. I still had to answer to clients and government authorities. But, it eliminated the whole office politics aspect. Wishing you all the best and I hope this helps someone!

  40. Minimary

    I read that we sometimes do this because we weren’t given the opportunity, as children, to have our needs heard.

    1. Bwoods

      I’m pretty sure I just missed an opportunity to advance because of my mouth and my need to be heard and be right.

      I didn’t get to make choices as a child and now I’m over compensating

    2. San

      You mean when family was telling you that your opinion is ridicules to many times …like type bullying ?

    3. Bonnie

      Yes this is true – I am 4th of 8 children!

  41. Keilah

    I definitely have trouble keeping my mouth shut I’m literally known for running my mouth

  42. Galileo

    Oh my. I am the exact same person who keeps offering counselling advise, suggestions, improvisations and help every now and then. I am a talker and listener and an empath over everything. I am an attorney by profession and logic is my sword. But my words are kind and people feel really good after they get in conversation with me. But my husband who was my boyfriend from past 15 year, hate my THIS ATTITUDE. He actually tells me to “shut my mouth” even if I crack a joke or offer a genuine suggestion, in front of my in-laws, it is me who will be ever insulted in public by my husband. He dislikes this quality of mine and that’s what shocks my conscience. I read several articles on his behaviour and then the only recommendation was to understand his triggers. Yes, know your audience is always a must. Whether they personally take your words seriously ever or not? If you are already taken for granted, then, it is useless to talk them into any advise. If they ever sought counselling they will acquire it. But all of this made me real sad. My friends understood that I am not at all appreciated at my homefront. I took work from home from my job because I offered a suggestion and I felt that a girl previously working at a post earlier that week, spoke her mind and was respectably fired from job. I was too tensed, and opted from working from home rather than facing problems and out of my nature, offer suggestions. Which were never asked.

    How did I recover?

    I am still a work in progress. But I have a good support system of 5 people n my life. The hierarchy is like this. :MY mother. My two attorney friends. My one friend who is living my duplicate life. and My one admirer who is also my voice of reason, not because of admiring qualities but because the good they all see in me, and sometimes asks me to bring my kindness few notches down.

    Where is my insulter, my husband?

    Busy planning another witty insult. Or maybe not. He is a kind man too and has a very different perception about things. Maybe I am not the right audience for him and so is he for me. Now I prefer not to share my opinions,suggestions and advises with him, because we are not mentally ready to hear each other. We will need more time to understand each other and that can be given only if we have less confrontational situations in our daily life. After all I am the attorney. I must be the one who should know when to litigate, when to mediate and when to negotiate.

    How about work?

    Work actually became better when I stopped focusing on many things at once, and practiced attention on the one in hand. Solitude is not for me as I am very social but since I am not any media, it becomes often lonely for me. So I do chit chats with office receptionist on phone and thats all!

    I get busy with work, and I prefer reading books and novels. And I prefer shutting myself after emailing to authors of articles and novels. Guess what, my mental curiosity or my philosophical take on work and character, ethics and morals usually astound them, they appreciate and value it.

    And after all the right audience valuing our thoughts is the only thing we ever want for our buys active minds who are deep thinkers and really want to change everything radically.

    1. Talkative

      Wow this really hit home…your husband situation is alot like mine…I believe my situation has alot to do with me not giving him the chance to feel like the man in our relationship…I am a Leo I am very strong minded and I feel the need to show it to everyone…and I wish I could just stop and really listen to what others have to say..but instead I’m cutting them off not letting them get a word in…then about time I realize I’m doing it it’s to late…I love my husband also and I wish I could not feel the need to have to control everything….my husband is a Gemini we both are very strong minded and neither one of us knows when to back down that’s how we in up in most of or disagreements…I need overall help…

      1. Kim

        I feel like it’s me writing your article. I’m a Sagittarius he’s a Gemini. I’d started doing my chakras and you can find this online on YouTube and it really really has helped good luck to you and me both

  43. A student

    Ahh the case of “not being able to keep your mouth shut” is well known to my friends as my illness. It was only today that one of my “friends” told me they hated me due to a political opinion. Thats when i realised that i needed to fix this. I wrote myself an algorithm to think through before even opening my mouth. I ask myself what mood im in? Whether i shouldnt talk right now? Is my opinion going to be misunderstood? Who am i talking to? And then i decide whether or not its worth mentioning. I hope we can all fix this!!!

    1. Amber

      OMG. I wish i had read your comment first! What You said at the end of your comment, explains the outlineeveryone should go by if they have this problem. thank You for the great tips!!

  44. J

    I am currently feeling very similar. It seems that I no longer like being around any friends or family for too long anymore….I feel like anything that comes out of my mouth is misinterpreted- And i certainly am tired of having to read between the lines of BS….so I feel like I’m Ok….and if it really boils down to it….I don’t give a fuck…..& fuck you! ….Siblings and Long time friends don’t really like the serious fuck everyone guy….they like the sweet pushover guy that is a lover and A debit card swiper… time for me then…for sure…I’m not gravelling or buying a relationship ….fuck that….& it is depressing & it does suck….and it does make me build resentment…..and I hate the outlook I have in life right now – It’s making me feel isolated – lonely – and fucked up- and that is just the beginning of my issues with people- I’m definitely an onion of layers – family deaths, money, and the unrealistic expectations demanded by corporate America’ – and the head games people play are fucking exhausting

    1. S

      Yeah, allistics and their mind games can be really annoying…

    2. San

      Wow same as me…far away…left to live to another continent…just to figure how they really are after 20 years to clearly see what was done and how…suprise suprise remembered stuff done when i was 5…itd itd…

  45. Chris

    I have a problem where my thoughts are said allowed without me intending to say them. I can’t hear them and I don’t feel my mouth move. To me, I’m being silent, but I’m doing it right now as I right this out. It has screwed up my entire life because I have schizophrenia and I have really shitty intrusive thoughts and voices that talk through my mouth. I literally have to fight my mind to have a normal goddamn conversation. I’ve been looking online for what this is, but the best way I’ve found to stop them is to put water in my mouth and hold it there. It sucks because I have to swallow the water, say something, hope they don’t say something stupid and then put more water in my mouth. It really sucks, but at least I’m hydrated. It has fucked up my love life, my friendships, everything.

  46. change4the better

    i just lost my job and im devastated i feel like a complete fool because ive lost so many other jobs in the past in its all due to the fact i have a bad attitude and i have two kids a 5 year old and a 1 year old and i feel that everytime i lose control over myself and lose my job i feel like failed my kids im am to the point where im done with the it i want to change because the old way isnt working FYI ive always worked in fastfood so im wondering is it just working in fast food isnt for me or is it somthing that i need to really deal with internally i know i am really sweetr genuine witty person and i truly love to be around people and help people but its just when customers come in do the most and then want to report you to the please if anyone can give me some positive advice ill greatly appreciate it

    1. Scott Berkun

      Sorry to hear about your situation. I’m not in your situation so I don’t think I can give you much advice. All I can say is you are aware of a habit you have that is working against you. The two question to ask are 1) What is going on for you that creates that habit? It might be things outside of work that you’re upset about that you bring to work with you, and your tolerance for bosses and annoying customers is low before you walk in the door. It’s not an easy job even for people in good moods – I don’t think it’s you – these are not easy places to work in general. 2) What situations trigger the habit and how can you change them? Can you do something before you get to work to relax and calm yourself down? Or have something specific to look forward to during your break or after work to focus on and keep some of that positive energy in you during the day?

      I know that can’t help much, but that’s the best I can do from over here on the Internet. Good luck to you.

  47. change4the better

    i think thats why i cant let things go because i wasnt heard as a child

  48. Suleiman

    well, am the type of person that always speaks his mind even if am wrong, And I didn’t realize it was a habit till I got into a higher institution where people criticise you for being wrong, now am trying to stop this habit but the words come out of my mouth without me even thinking about it

  49. Bonnie

    I currently have a new boss (replacing a micro manager, narcissitic “Executive Director” I had for 18 years), and 3 new co-workers (replacing long term 15+ year employees). I initially felt like a huge weight is off my shoulders. However, I now feel like an outsider with the newbies making major decisions without any background or idea how things have worked around here for 15 years. I rarely am asked questions or talked to – I believe my old narcissistic boss said things to the new boss so that she keeps me thinking I am “less than” which is how the old boss treated me. After giggling I posted a sign to myself – keep calm and stay in my lane!. I went out of my lane today and the new boss seemed genuinely shocked that I may have an idea how things go around here. Leaders Lead, followers follow – I lead as well and they can replace me for a follower if they deem appropriate!

  50. May

    I always have a problem with giving out opinions. I thought I’m doing the right thing because I’m telling the truth and not lying. It turns out there are people out there who can’t handle the truth. In my past employments, I always voice out & then I was let go because of it. Even in my personal life, people see me as the “bad guy” for always telling the truth to their faces. I realized now that I’m not responsible for other people, whether they see their own mistakes or not.

    As a child, I wasn’t heard because I’m a girl & we leave the decisions and opinions to men. Right now, I’m slowly working on myself. Though it’s different personally because when you have no opinions, relatives will see you as a cold-hearted person for not reacting at all lol



  1. How to keep your mouth shut | Scott Berkun

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