Messages from the Masters
Silence and a Smile by Bob Burg

Years ago I was in the audience while noted author and speaker, Mark Sanborn (, was giving a presentation. He related how, one time, while in flight, he responded to the man in the next seat, whom he'd just met, asking him his profession by saying he was a speaker. The man suddenly exclaimed, "Oh, motivational speaking doesn't work!" (Note: very few speakers, with rare exception, refer to ourselves as "motivational speakers." That's a title/description we've been given by the general public -- sort of like the late Chris Farley's satirical portrayal on Saturday Night Live.) :-)

Instead of being taken aback and answering defensively, Mark just smiled. Over the next couple of minutes, the neighbor, while at first continuing his thoughts, started relating times when something a speaker had said had, in fact, got him thinking or made a difference; or where a book or tape had inspired him. Finally, he came to his own conclusion that "motivational speaking" does have its positive place in his world.

In my opinion, what persuaded this man to adjust his way of thinking was not the facts...but Mark himself. Had Mark reacted to the man's statement, argued with him and recited examples and stories regarding lives he's touched (and Mark could...he's *that* good at what he does!) the man would, most likely, never have listened for even an instant.

Instead, Mark responded with silence, kindness and a sincere, non-judgmental smile, allowing his neighbor to work himself out of the hole he'd dug with his reactive statement, and eventually come to a conclusion that resulted in a smooth ride and nice conversation.

So, when a similar situation happened with me last week, I was prepared. :-)  Reading a book while sitting alone at a restaurant eating dinner (one of my favorite activities), one of the waiters eyed the book closely and said, "Oh, is that one of those 'motivational-type' books? I don't believe in those." (Note both of these people had the reactionary, unconscious mind-sets -- this describes the majority of people with pre-programmed, computer-like minds, which is why WWI is so important to keep in mind.)

With silence, I simply smiled in acknowledgment. Well, five minutes later he was back and, this time, instead of making a comment, he asked me a question about the book. After briefly telling him what it was about, we discussed the benefits of reading all types of books. I told him I admired his "open-mindedness" and, of course, he was more than ready to agree with me. I suggested that he purchase this book, The Way Of The Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, an awesome book, and he agreed to. Now, will he? Who knows? But the seed of learning has been planted. And not, I believe, because of anything I said in trying to be persuasive. It was more, like Mark, in just being momentarily silent, smiling non-judgmentally, I allowed him to work his way out of his own ordeal

Next time you're in a situation with someone who expresses an opinion based on a long-believed, pre-conceived notion, remember: Sometimes silence and a smile is the best response.


Bob Burg

Bob Burg is author of "Winning Without Intimidation" and "Endless Referrals." To receive 20% off on Bob's products visit or call 877-929-0439.

Provided courtesy of  Jim Rohn International

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