Never miss an opportunity to keep your mouth shut.
People like to talk. Listen to them.
You rarely learn anything from talking (unless you’re talking to a therapist). But there is much to learn from listening to others. What they say—and sometimes what they don’t say.
Often, there is no reason to talk at all. Let the person you are with talk and talk and talk. Not only will you learn much about them, they will adore you. People love to talk about themselves; they love people who listen to them.
There is almost no reason to ever say anything, aside from, “That’s fascinating, tell me more.”
This is how you learn secrets. People eventually get round to telling you what you want to know all by themselves. Don’t push; let them get there on their own.
And if you feel tempted to tell them about yourself, don’t. Tell yourself: “Self, keep your mouth shut.”
Hence, everyone else’s spiel is an opportunity for you to keep your mouth shut.
But suddenly there is silence?
Keep your mouth shut. The person talking to you will fill it, if only out of nervousness. People are generally frightened of silence. It makes them talk.
You are asked a question?
Turn it around with a question of your own.
Feel challenged to view silence and questions as an opportunity to remain mum.
This holds especially true with depositions under oath.
First, take a deep breath to consider the question while providing your brain with a fresh shot of oxygen. It also throws the opposition off their rhythm.
Answer as simply and with as few words as possible, preferably just yes or no.
“Do you know who was responsible for that?”
“Can you tell us?”
“Then tell us!”
“Is that a question?”