The power of silence in a noisy world: Kondraty Ryleyev, 1826

Kondraty Ryleyev Was born on September 29, 1795, in a village called Batovo, Russia.
At the age of 25, in 1820, Ryleyev gained recognition in literary circles, for penning a satirical ode To the Favorite, and in 1823, Ryleyev was recruited by Ivan Pushchin to the revolutionary Northern Society, an organization of revolutionaries, which later led him to become one of the leaders of the Decembrist, a Russian revolutionary group demanding that their country modernize.
Ryleyev ‘s greatest power was in his mouth.
He was a good orator and this was the reason why he became a leader of the Decembrist.

However, this same strength of his would later become the reason why he died when he did, at age 30.

In 1825, the new emperor of Russia, Nicholas 1 arrested Ryleyev and sentenced him to death.

But on the 25th of July, 1826 when Kondraty Ryleyev was to be executed, the rope that was supposed to kill him broke as he dangled on it, to which he announced to the crowd; “You see, in Russia, they don’t know how to do anything properly, not even how to make rope!”

The custom of the Russian empire at this time dictated that if a criminal somehow escaped death the day he was to be executed, then, he should be freed but because of Ryleyev’s statement after the rope broke, the emperor overruled the custom and asked that he be killed anyways.

The lesson from this story is simple; your mouth can make you a king and it can destroy your life.

While speaking up can open several doors for you, knowing when to keep silence is as important as knowing how to speak

Talking & Silence.

Let’s face it, some of us came to this world with our mouths wide open.

We’re talkative.

It’s part of our personality and before you think talkativeness is a bad thing, I want to tell you this; you need an open mouth to succeed in life.

For example, this 2020 study published by Leadership Quarterly found that talkativeness is a major factor that determines whether you’ll be a leader of a group or not;

The World Economic Forum in this publication cites a study that found that the more you talk, the more you’re likely to be considered a leader by the people around you
This research studied 33 groups of four to 10 university students working together on different projects and after the projects, the participants were asked to nominate their leaders.
What the researchers found is that, participants who talk a lot were more likely to be nominated as leaders – regardless of their competence.
Somehow in our brain, we believe that people who talk a lot know a lot.
In fact, studies have found that many people consider talkativeness as a positive trait
But opening your mouth is like an inverted U

If you go about your daily life not talking, then, you can’t make friends, ask for a raise, or tell someone that they’re stupid when they are… ahahahahahaha…

This means that you can’t go far in life.

The opposite of that is if you go about opening your mouth every second.

Then, you become irritating, promise what you can’t fulfill, say what you’re not supposed to say, lose the respect of other people, or even offend the emperor of your country.

When it comes to using our mouth, the problem we have is not whether to talk or not to talk.

The real problem is to know when to talk and when to keep silent.

For example, this study looked at 932 conversations between pairs of people and find that only about 2 percent of conversations ended when both people wanted them to.

But another study of 252 strangers found that 10% of times, both parties in conversation actually want it to continue;

What this means is that, in any case, you can talk too much and you can talk too little and none of those is good.

Now let’s talk about a few things;

When to stop talking in an informal relationship
When to talk and stop talking in a formal or office environment
When to keep your mouth shut

According to a 2018 publication by Patti Wood, an expert in nonverbal communication, the best time to stop talking in an informal relationship is when a few of these happened;

The person you’re talking to no longer give eye contact
They lean backward
They have stopped nodding for a while
They put a barrier between you two
They grasp their phones

Checking their watch too is a big sign they’re no longer interested in what you’re saying.

When to talk and stop talking in a formal or office environment

A 2014 study of 291 employees in Malaysia found that many employees don’t feel comfortable talking at work because their work environment doesn’t seem conducive for talking, especially with their superiors

In a case where you found yourself in such an environment, keeping silent may be the best strategy.

But, like in most things, there’s a caveat to this rule and that’s if you keep silent all the time, studies show that you won’t get paid what you are worth and you may not be deemed fit for a leadership position.

For example, a survey of 4,100 professionals in 32 countries by a global management consulting company, Accenture, shows that 77% of employees who have asked for or negotiated a pay raise have received one while 68% of professionals who have asked for promotion also received one.

This means, even though you might avoid the office politics and small talks, you should speak up when the time comes to ask for what you think you deserve or else, you’ll be given the leftover

When to keep your mouth shut

About 3 years ago, I visited one of my sisters, saw her in poverty, and got emotional.

Then I promised her that I’ll soon take one of her children to my home, in the city.

A few months after that promise, however, I discovered that I was foolish to have made such a promise because my value and philosophy about life is quite opposite to that of my sister.

Raising her child means that I’ll raise someone who would end up being different from her, this might cause her pains in the future and I would be blamed for it.

Fortunately about 2 years after I committed this blunder, I read Robert Greene’s book, The Law of Human Nature, and learn a simple strategy I’ve been practicing since then.

I call it; Pause Rule.

The pause rule states that you should always PAUSE before opening your mouth for promise, anger, or reply.

For example, if like me, you find yourself in an emotional situation you think you can help make better, pause.

Don’t make a promise.

Wait for a minute, an hour, 24 hours, or even a week, depending on the seriousness of the matter.

Sleep over it and you can see all the angles to that situation.

This will help you to make better decisions and in return, get people to trust you the more because you don’t make promises that you couldn’t fulfill.


Now let’s talk about;


In a 2015 study of 34,000 US adults, The journal CNS Spectrums reported that 7.8% of people in the United States experienced “inappropriate, intense, or poorly controlled” anger.

Let’s say someone verbally attacks or criticizes you for whatever reasons.

What most of us do is to open our mouths and attack them back.

The problem about this is that you’ll end up saying what you shouldn’t say, lose your credibility as a mature adult or their subsequent attacks will lead you to do something crazy.

Thousands of people are in prison just because they cannot take a pause.

The pause rule says you should pause, just a few moments before the outburst.

Pause a moment before you reply to a critic.

Pause a moment before you send that angry email.

Pause, just a moment and that might save your life

The pause rule is effective because oftentimes we get angry not because of what happens but because of how we think about it;

Talking can easily be compared to social media, the internet, or guns.

It’s a powerful thing but also a bad thing, depending on how and when you use it.

Kondraty Ryleyev became a famous activist because he spoke up and speak a lot but it was this same strength that led to his death in July of 1826.

The lesson here is to know when to speak and when to keep silent

You may decide not to get involve with the small talks at the office but you have to know how to ask for a raise, a promotion, or whatever you think you deserve or you’ll be paid less.

You should avoid lengthy talks about yourself but studies also found that self-deprecating humor make others like you

If you live your life always avoiding conflict or anger, then other people would treat you like trash so you need to be verbally qualified to attack people but also exercise enough self-control to be able to take a pause, assess the situation, and see whether you need to deal a blow.

Always remember the Pause Rule!

Thanks for reading.

I’m Steve Courage.

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