“I have often regretted my speech, never my silence.” Those are the words of a 1st century B.C. Roman author, Publilius Syrus.
In work with career transition clients, this easily applies to the interview process (talking too much is tantamount to “overselling”) but we all know many areas in life where it is best to remember these words. Those of us given to nervous talk can leave an impression that we are trying to hide something or that we lack a certain confidence, both of which do not play well in personal interactions of all kinds.
I have people admit that they “talk too much,” tend to be given to nervous chatter—do not seem to have control over it, particularly in those more tense situations, such as in competing for a job.
Here is the lesson: Get comfortable with silence. If and when questions arise for which you are not immediately prepared, take a breath before responding and if an answer does not present itself, it is acceptable to say simply that you do not know or have not thought about that in that precise way, but mention that you will get back on it, if that makes sense. Making something up or guessing is really not a good idea, much better to go with the moment of silence and then an offer to revisit the matter once you investigate.
Overall, being comfortable with silence does actually demonstrate confidence the way nervous chatter can never do, so practice allowing for the space between words and conversation. You will not regret it.