To Speak or Not To Speak: That’s The Question

in Brief

The toughest part of doing a deal is knowing when to speak, which also means it’s knowing when NOT to speak. In sales, they say that you have to eventually stop selling and close—and that’s the same principle at work in a real estate deal.

Of course, it’s not just about knowing when to speak but also knowing the right thing to say and the right questions to ask. People always think that being the smartest guy in the room is an advantage.

It’s not.

The biggest advantage is given to the guy who says the simplest thing or asks the right question at the right time. You don’t need to know how to split an atom to do that. You just have to have patience with yourself, your product and your prospect.

My experience has taught me that being successful doesn’t take knowing everything. Knowing the basics and being willing to learn more is enough to create success. Having all the answers—or thinking you do—can be dangerous. There’s a lot to be said for someone who has the confidence and courage to admit they don’t know something. Being able to admit this not only encourages the quest for information, resulting in research and knowledge, but it also inspires the inexperienced to bring their new, outside perception into play. This allows for different interpretation and acceptance of the data they uncover, which can be the key to innovation.

Even if you are familiar with the subject matter, there’s always someone more knowledgeable than you—this is something I’m reminded of frequently. And that person may be the individual you’re talking to, which is why the more powerful move is to allow the other person to do the talking. If you don’t say anything at all, then you never have to wonder if you said the right thing or if you said too much.

Even when you’re looking for legal advice before heading into a deposition, you’re told by your attorney to just answer the questions and not to provide more information than asked for. Answer yes or no. 


Because talking too much can get you into trouble. Not only can what you say lead your listener to infer certain things but your words can also take you off course from your goals. Think about it this way: if you were walking east through the forest and you heard a sound to the north—a bird crying, leaves crunching, sticks breaking—you might change course to figure out what caused that noise. Now you are no longer headed in the direction you were aiming for. 

Don’t let yourself be distracted, overly curious or overconfident. It’s the same with any deal. Know your numbers and your markets, study your plan and stay on course, often with your mouth closed. When the time, and the subject matter, is right, ask questions—doing so might just make you sound like you know what you’re talking about. Ask your questions and wait for the answers with your mouth shut—no matter how long it takes.

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