If your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt.

If your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt.

 

The great industrialist Henry Kaiser, speaks to our tendency to over sell or over explain. Don’t let words get in the way and obscure good work.

 

The anthropologist Margaret Mead had this insight: “What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.”

 

An old adage in sales is: once you have made the sale: shut up. Don’t over sell. And at the end of the day, every time we attempt to persuade or convince someone of our point of view, it’s a sale.

 

Do good work. Actions speak louder than words; let them speak.

 

When, and when not, to explain our work is an artful balancing act. It doesn’t pay to remain totally silent. People need to be aware of our work before they can like it. So awareness campaigns are crucial.

 

Many times our work simply doesn’t speak for itself and some explanation and promotion are in order. Let people into the behind the scenes of your thought process and workflow. This can create a lot more interest in what you do and your finished product. The term for this type of behind-the-scenes look is “inside baseball”. Everybody loves to feel like an insider. Let them in.

 

Knowing when to elaborate and when to shut up; that’s the art. And when we decide it’s the proper time to shut up; listen. Listening is a crucial superpower skill that requires continuous cultivation. I try to be mindful of practicing active listening in each and every encounter, every day. We have two ears and one mouth; use them in that proportion.

 

As screenwriter Charlie Kaufman said: “Constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating.”

 

I also strive to:

  • Be thoughtful
  • Be considerate
  • Be a fan
  • Be an open node
  • Be kind

 

Simple precepts go a long way.

 

About Henry Kaiser (I’m a big fan)

 

He was one of the great industrialists of the 20th century. He built the Hoover Dam, one of the greatest construction projects ever, that electrified the west and made Las Vegas possible. He was in charge of building the Liberty Ships during WWII and turned out ships in record number by creating innovative build processes with pre-fabricated sections. He salvaged trolley systems for his shipyards, that were bought up and destroyed by GM in an effort to eradicate public transportation and increase demand for their cars (an amazing tale in its own right).   He innovated healthcare and health insurance; to this day Kaiser is a big name in healthcare. He created a car company and the cult classic Henry J.

 

This guy’s work speaks for itself!