The smartest person in the room is the one who is talking the least.
It’s a simple calculus:
Listening is how you gain knowledge. If you’re talking, you’re not listening, therefore, those who choose to listen collect more knowledge than those who choose to speak.
We should view speaking as the absence of listening as if you’re switching the vacuum from suck to blow. And, once you choose the blow setting, the absence of knowledge begins. It starts before you open your mouth. It starts once you make the decision in your mind to speak because often you’re preparing your speech while others are talking.
We’ve all been there, refining our great lecture underneath someone else’ words, planning our opening, picturing the mic drop. Meanwhile, great insights and new knowledge are floating by above our heads and seeping into other people’s minds, and not ours.
It’s fine to talk. It’s important to contribute, but shutting up, by definition, is the smartest thing you can do.