Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

Do I Really Need To Say Anything?

I have started a new practice that has made a huge positive impact on my life. As a consultant, I’ve always known that my job was to ask good questions and listen intensely. However, in my personal life I will often give my feedback, opinions, ideas, suggestions and direction without even being asked for it! Because I realized this wasn’t exactly a positive trait, during the last few months I have focused on asking myself a few questions before I open my mouth.

  • Do I really need to say anything right now?
  • Is what I’m going to say adding any significant value to the conversation?
  • Is what I want to say helpful or am I just trying to talk about me?
  • Do they want my advice or simply for me to listen to them?

Just taking a moment to pause and ask myself these questions has totally changed the way I approach conversations with my family, friends and colleagues. I have found that in the past I would often say things that were not relevant, did not help the conversation move forward in a positive direction or were simply an effort for me to impose my thoughts and values on someone else. Carefully thinking about what I am planning to say, before I say it, has cut my comments by 80%. I talk a lot less, listen more, and end up having much better and more satisfying conversations for myself and others.

So to finish, rather than telling you what to do let me ask you a question; Do you think it would be helpful to ask yourself these questions before you start talking?



  1. That’s an excellent list of questions. I spent twelve years living in Asia, building a business working with U.S. authors, which meant no in-person discussions. And why did I become a writer in the first place? I’m not so good at in-person discussions. I’m still learning. This list helps. I might need to laminate a card.

  2. I was going to comment on this, but then I applied the four questions and decided not to.

    • Ever so clever, Jack!

      John, you know I am going to be happy anytime someone uses questions to do good thinking. These are great.

  3. as an egotistical, self-absorbed salesperson that loves to hear himself talk. I can relate. This is always great to hear and be reminded of. Unfortunately, I have a brother that is worse but does not know it. Great lesson for the two of us.

  4. John,
    I might include.

    5. Does my asking this question strengthen my position or help the opposition?

    I was on a call the other day in that a business associate ended up strengthening the other side more and weakened our position in their comment/question. I have been thinking about it all week. Again John Spence adds insight. Thanks.

  5. Michal Petras says:

    Thank you John. These questions are simple and straightforward.

  6. Richard Drader says:

    Yes. It will be helpful. As always, thanks!

  7. Bobby Hall says:

    Reminds me to THINK before I speak. Is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, or Kind?

  8. Excellent advice John and something to aspire to.

  9. Hoai Ha says:

    Thank you John. It’s so helpful to keep conversation straightforward.

  10. Jeremy says:

    is what I will say…

    “Think” before we speak

    Got this one from a pastor

    Thanks for your perspective on this John

  11. Kevin says:

    When we share a beer again, please leave all this thinking behind and let’s talk freely.

  12. Paula says:

    Hmmm. Frequently use past experiences to relate or explain which may come across as ‘Talking about myself”.
    Must endeavour to re-jig delivery….or, re-think if the delivery is actually required.

    Food for thought. Thanks (again) John!

  13. Thanks for the reminder.

    An additional question may be, “Will a response build this relationship? If not, smile and nod.