When to bite your tongue, say thank you, and reciprocate

June 2, 2008 by Jared Goralnick

little_boy_finger_lips I make a lot of mistakes; here are a couple of which many of us can be guilty–talking instead of saying thank you, and failing to reciprocate in conversation.

Sometimes biting our tongue or better involving the other person would’ve been the wiser choice. So by way of two stories from the TECH cocktail Conference last week, I offer up my follies for your benefit.

I’m wrestling with whether or not this is a technology/productivity topic, but I believe lessons in behavior are even more relevant online–where your activities can be seen by thousands of people, and accessed years later. Now, onto the stories…

I want to call out Frank Gruber and Gary Vaynerchuk as two people who know how to treat people and deserve their attention. If you haven’t watched Gary’s Wine Library TV or attended one of Frank’s TECH cocktail events, you’re missing out on some of the most innovative and interesting happenings today. In short, I deeply respect both Frank and Gary.

On Wednesday night there was a small reception at the Loyola University Museum of Art, and Frank was introducing me to a few of his friends. He mentioned how he’d been using my product and how it’s helped him. If you were to read the “examples uses” page on AwayFind’s site, I suppose Frank’s use might not be the norm, but he was endorsing it and making me look good. I should’ve just said thank you. Instead I explained how most folks are using it.

Lesson #1. Never correct people when they’re promoting you.

I suppose this ain’t exactly rocket science, but when folks are trying make you look good, just shut your mouth and say thank you. Feel free to clarify but never correct. I’ve always wanted to be one of those humble, quiet sorts but it’s not necessarily in my nature. I just have to remember sometimes to bite my tongue and be thankful.

The next night I was in a cab with Gary and some others, and he asked me about where I grew up. I mentioned how I moved from Burlington MA to Framingham MA just before high school. He was quick to empathize as he had moved at around that time when growing up. I gave a little background behind my move and he listened earnestly. But I don’t know the rest of his story around that time because I never asked.

Lesson #2. When people make you feel good by asking questions, reciprocate

In other words, if someone’s taking an active interest (and you’re enjoying it), don’t forget about them. Unless they’re interviewing you, ask them similar questions. Whatever it is you like most how they’re treating you, try to give that back.

I don’t think either of these were “a big deal” but it bothers me when I don’t get to be as appreciative or caring as those around me. It’s not that I’m antisocial or particular poor in these settings, but I know there’s always room for improvement. It’d kind of like this article on Copyblogger today that gets into the nitty gritty of writing, it may not make a difference most of the time, but when the lesson fits, it can really have an impact.

Do you have similar stories or lessons to share? Do you mind my covering topics like this from time to time?

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3 Responses to “When to bite your tongue, say thank you, and reciprocate”


  1. Charlie Gilkey | Productive Flourishing

    Thanks for sharing, Jared. Learning how to have good social relationships with people is definitely a productivity issue, as having successful or unsuccessful relationships with people affects our productivity.

    And, even if it weren’t related strictly to productivity, it’s always helpful to share stories like these with people. You’ve provided value to your readers, bottomline – and we appreciate that.

  2. P Maccini

    Thanks for sharing, Jared, and agree that the issue pertains to productivity, and overall,the use of one’s time.Although it may be difficult to measure quantitatively,social tact/graces have an impact both professionally and personally.

  3. Jared Goralnick

    Charlie & P,

    Thanks for your vote of your confidence. I’ll keep writing stuff like this when it arises. I really appreciate both of your time and continued reading :-).

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