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To Be Better At Business And Life, Just Shut The **** Up

My colleague often gives me four very powerful words of advice.

I know they’re pure gold. Yet I struggle to follow them. If you want to succeed in whatever you do, then don’t be like me. Embrace these four magical words:


It’s as simple as that.

Stop talking, and start listening. Be silent. Be patient. Let the other person finish what they’re saying.

Tom Peters says this: 

“I hate MBA programs, but if I was to design my own MBA program it would have two streams: Strategic Listening One and Strategic Listening Two.”

Peters knows being a great listener is the key to being effective, adding value, making a contribution.


  1. I’ll say it again: Shut the **** up.
  2. Don’t interrupt (are you someone who listens for 18 seconds and then interrupts with your view? Peters calls those people ‘18 second managers’).
  3. Maintain eye contact.
  4. Keep as present as you can – keep interested, and force distraction out of your mind.
  5. Another gem from a different colleague: “Listen to what is being meant, not to what is being said.” I love this. Keep searching for the real message they want to convey – what is being meant by those words?
  6. And finally, when they’re finished, ask questions. Delve a step further, clarify, probe for more context. Do this before giving your view.

My colleague has helped me a lot with my listening. And gradually – step by step, meeting by meeting – I’m forcing myself to improve. To go into a room prepared and ready to listen. And it all starts with embracing these four big words: Shut the **** up! 

About the author

Angela Cameron - CA, CPA

Executive Director

A chartered accountant by qualification, she is a recruitment leader by nature.

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