Shut Up

(From Aidan Directors Blog, 14 April 2009)

First of all, I want to recommend a book. Please buy this:

Click on the book, it will take you to the Amazon page

(Click on the book, it will take you to the Amazon page.)

“Shut up” is a beautiful phrase. It is short, sweet, and hits like a brick. It is not poignant and lyrical, but it belongs to a select group of English phrases we can’t live without.

A person who are asked to “shut up” would feel an urge to punch the face of the person asking him to. This is a testament how powerful these two words are.

The other alternatives to “shut up” do not pack the same amount of punch:

  • Please be silent. Suitable for old women working in libraries.
  • Please stop talking. OK, I will stop talking, but I still can make noise: nyah nyah nyah.
  • Kindly refrain from making noises. By the time you finish with the sentence, I am already dozing off.

“Shut up” is the best way to ask people to shut up.

Why is it that “shut up” works, and the others don’t? There are two reasons. First, “shut up” is short. Two words and six letters. Second, it cuts to the chase. It does not explain what the end result will be (“Please be silent”), or what action is required from you (“Please stop talking”, “Kindly refrain from making noises”). It is a simple, direct order. An order to SHUT UP. It is so powerful, that if you hear someone says “shut up”, you would momentarily sit straight and stop doing what you are doing, say, typing on the computer because you don’t want to make noises on the keyboard.

Short, concise, direct statement works. If you put padding on it, you will make it more ineffective.

Imagine a recent MBA graduate, who wants to ask his officemate (who hums tunes from his iPod all day) to shut up.

No, MBA guy will not say “Shut up”. That’s not they way “businessmen” are supposed to talk, as he learnt in business school.

He would say something like:

“Kindly refrain from making any form of sound.”

That still sounds too direct, so let’s blunt the impact some more:

“It would be highly appreciated if you refrain from creating any form of sound from your mouth.”

Much better, but let’s throw in some business jargon, because, you know, we are businessmen and thus should sound smart:

“Looking forward, if would be highly appreciated if, in the spirit of camaraderie and coexistence, you refrain from creating any form of sound from your mouth.”

One more time:

“Looking forward, if would be highly appreciated if you can leverage your willpower, in the spirit of camaraderie and coexistence, so that you refrain from empowering your mouth to emit certain forms of sound.”

This is too much fun:

“Looking forward, it is a highly desirable value proposition if you can leverage your willpower, in the spirit of camaraderie and coexistence, so that you refrain from empowering your mouth to emit certain forms of sound, so you can contribute positively to our communities and our environment.”

The sky’s the limit:

“Looking forward, it is a highly desirable value proposition if you can leverage your willpower, in the spirit of camaraderie and coexistence, so that you refrain from empowering your mouth to emit certain forms of sound, in order that you can contribute positively to our communities and our environment, while we embrace diversity as an essential component of the way we do business.”

I can go on and on, but I’ll stop here. As a final touch:

“Looking forward, it is a highly desirable value proposition if you can leverage your willpower, in the spirit of camaraderie and coexistence, so that you refrain from empowering your cakehole to emit certain forms of sound, in order that you can contribute positively to our communities and our environment, while we embrace diversity as an essential component of the way we do business.”

Imagine a newly minted MBA says this to you in the office:

“Looking forward, it is a highly desirable value proposition if you can leverage your willpower, in the spirit of camaraderie and coexistence, so that you refrain from empowering your cakehole to emit certain forms of sound, in order that you can contribute positively to our communities and our environment, while we embrace diversity as an essential component of the way we do business.”

You’d say: “Shut up, ass.”

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