7 Types of People Everyone Wishes Would Just Shut the **** Up


Do you ever wish you could just tell someone to “shut the **** up?”

  • They’re trying to talk like they’re a genius, when they are obviously as dumb as a doorknob.
  • Or they’re trying to beef up their own credibility, so you’ll listen to their stupid advice.
  • Or they’re bragging about some moronic thing that they did in the hopes that you’ll think they’re cool.

But really, you just wish they would shut their freaking mouth.

Know what I’m talking about?

I’m guessing you do. In fact, I’m betting you go to extreme lengths to make sure no one thinks you’re one of these people.

The last group you want to belong to is the Tribe of STFU, right? You couldn’t respect yourself.

That’s a Mistake

When you’re worried about other people telling you to STFU, several bad things happen when trying to gain social media stature:

  • You only speak when you’re totally sure of yourself.
  • You carefully measure how everyone will react.
  • You make sure nothing you say will cause anyone to think less of you.

You think this is smart. And to a certain extent, it is. If you want to get through life without anyone disliking you, then buttoning your bottom lip, keeping your eyes to yourself, and getting on with your business is the perfect strategy.

But no one tells you that it’s also a good way to spend your life in fear.

You can never say what you really think for fear that someone will disagree. You can never tell other people what they really need to know for fear that you’ll ruin your relationship with them. You’ll never get around to writing the book or blog you’ve been planning for fear that no one but you will think it’s important.

Sure, everyone who knows you will like you, but not many will know you. The fear of “shut the **** up” will have driven you into mediocrity. It’ll crush any chance you ever had at greatness.

Of course, what choice do you have? No, you don’t want to be a timid, mediocre writer, but you don’t want to be one of those people who doesn’t know when to shut their mouth either.

How Do You Balance the Two?

How do you say what you think without becoming a “know it all” who everyone wants to punch in the face? How can you make sure that other people will find you interesting instead of annoying?

Well, you can’t. Mainly, it’s because you’re not omnipotent, and you’re not in control of what everyone else thinks.

But you can avoid making some common mistakes.

They’re so common, in fact, that they’ve all been turned into clichés. I’ve never seen anyone collect them all in one place before though, so just for your benefit, here they are:

Type #1: People Who Are Too Big for Their Britches

The people I most often want to shut the **** up are what my mother would call “too big for their britches.” They’re trying to sound smarter than they really are, pretending to know more than they really do, or acting like their life is better than it really is. They come off as phony, and it rubs everyone the wrong way.

The truth: you can’t fake being an interesting person. If you find yourself feeling like you have to pretend, then the problem isn’t your writing. It’s you. Go spice up your life, and you’ll find it infinitely easier to write something other people want to read.

Type #2: Snobs Who Look down Their Noses at Everyone

Of course, you can take it too far. Some people have done so much that they seem to look down their noses at everyone. For them, it’s not a matter of trying to impress anyone. They genuinely believe they are superior. They’re the Michael Jordan of their industry, and no one comes anywhere close to matching their talent. What’s more, they make sure everyone else knows it.

Every once in a while, I see beginning bloggers dipping into this mode. Usually, it’s a successful person that’s starting a blog, and they believe their achievements entitle them to continued attention. Big mistake. No one is entitled to attention, not even famous people like Oprah or Bill Gates. If it became obvious that they were looking down their noses at everyone, they’d lose huge portions of their audience.

Type #3: Cold Fish

For a medium that’s supposed to be about self-expression, most bloggers are surprisingly cold. Their writing reminds me of something I might’ve read in Biology 101. It sounds like they’re trying to impress the teacher with their knowledge, and they’ve forgotten that blogging isn’t writing an essay. It’s a conversational medium.

To be conversational, you can’t be cold. You have to be warm, edgy, and most importantly, FUN.

Type #4: Anyone Who Talks the Talk but Can’t Walk the Walk

You know those people who are always talking about what they’re going to do, and what they’re saying sounds really good, but they never actually get around to doing it? After a little while, you stop believing them. If they keep it up, you eventually stop listening altogether. No one has time for someone who talks a good game but doesn’t back it up with action.

The same goes for bloggers. All too often, I see folks talking about how they’re going to publish a free report, talking about how they’re going to write a book, talking about how they’re going to start a course, but they never get around to doing it. Your readers might not care too much, but other bloggers watch this type of thing. Do it long enough, and you’ll lose their respect, which is disastrous when you’re trying to grow a blog.

Type #5: People Who Beat around the Bush

Some residents of the Southern United States can be very sensitive about this one. To them, beating around the bush isn’t poor communication. It’s cultural heritage. You don’t just come out and say what you mean because, well, that’s “just not the way things are done ‘round here.”

That’s nonsense.

I’m from the South, currently living in the South, and I love my Southern heritage, but beat around the bush for more than a couple of minutes, and I’ll ignore you with the politest of Southern smiles. I don’t have time for figuring out what everyone means, online or otherwise. Either get to the point, or STFU.

Type #6: Morons Talking Out Of The Wrong End

Ever know someone who makes stuff up, just to have something to talk about? It doesn’t matter if the story actually happened. It doesn’t matter if their opinion is based on any sort of proof. It doesn’t matter if everyone in the room knows they’re full of crap. As long as it’s interesting, they’re going to tell you about it, sure enough.

In short, they’re talking out of their ass.

When you’re a blogger, it’s easy to make the same mistake. You start out with lots of stuff to write about, but sooner or later, the well just kind of runs dry. The problem is, your readers expect you to keep publishing on a regular basis, and that means finding something to write about. In a moment of desperation, you might be tempted to choose a topic you know is foolishness, just to keep your readers happy.

Big mistake. Online, people are even less tolerant of BS than they are in real life. If you want them to listen to you, you’d better either say something that has at least some foundation in reality, or say nothing at all.

Type #7: Long-Winded Gasbags

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how interesting you are. Talk for too long and people will resent you for using up their time, even if they enjoyed listening to you. They’ll also hesitate to connect with you in the future.

The best rule of thumb: make your point as quickly as possible, and then shut your mouth. Your audience will appreciate it.

That said, I think I’ll take my own advice…

About the Author: Jon Morrow is Associate Editor of Copyblogger and co-founder of Partnering Profits. Get more from Jon on twitter.

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Reader Comments (86)

  1. says

    Spot on! makes me think of all the self-proclaimed “gurus” out there….*groan* get over yourself already!

    Keeping this short ‘n sweet so no one tells me to STFU. *wink*

  2. says

    ::chuckles:: This is probably the best thing I’ve read in a while. Tweeted.

    Type 6 is my most hated… people who who are more focused on MAKING their point than on HAVING their point. Down with the ramblers.

  3. says

    “Type #5: People Who Beat around the Bush”

    That’s an infuriating trait in a blogger, and a fatal one in anyone trying to write sales copy. If you’re going to get your point across, or hawk your wares, you need to talk like a used car salesman.

    “This is a pretty good car, I mean, erm, it’s got a decent enough engine on it and I suppose it probably meets all your needs. I guess you might want to think about possibly, y’know?”


    “This car is your next car. It’s fast, fuel efficient and cheap. Make me an offer.”

    I know which one works better!

  4. says

    As a Northeasterner, I’m afraid I fall into the opposite camp from the circumlocutory Southerner. We’re likely to get to the point a little too fast for your comfort. This cultural difference undoubtedly has something to do with the long-standing discomfort each locale has with the other.

    It is a difficult balance to not be afraid to say what you think, but also avoid unnecessarily offending or putting off people. I developed what I hope is a good intuition about that during the presidential campaign. I lost a few followers because I experssed my politics rather pointedly. But since the election I’ve pulled back almost completely on partisan talk, because it just doesn’t seem appropriate anymore.

  5. says

    Thanks for the wake up call! I have to admit to some of these :< but knowledge is power right? No more “cold fish”!!!!

  6. says

    I love this post. They are all so true. The trouble is it gets you thinking about yourself, do I do that, am I like that. #4 is one that I have been guilty of in the past talking about it and not actually doing it, which is why I am commenting now. I often say to myself I will comment on that, but never do.

    So there we are I am doing it now!

  7. Ryan Campbell says

    I really enjoyed this post. Especially the section titled “Thats a Mistake” really good advice for your career and even relationships in general. I need to work on disagreeing with people more and sharing my true opinion.

  8. says

    Wow. Number 4 just jumped out at me. I don’t do this on my blog, but I’ve done it plenty of times in real life. I hate talking the talk and not walking the walk. From now on, if I have nothing to say that I’ll actually do, I won’t say it.

    Good tips, Jonathan.

  9. says

    Very observant. I kept thinking you were going to run out of types, but you kept hitting on good ones.

    I see myself in here, for sure, OUCH — thanks for the reminder.

  10. says

    Great article. So you mean I’ll actually have to make a few enemies, or at least people who aren’t super ME fans to succeed? Crap. By the way, as a follow-up to a past article, I’m finally getting around to fixing (not shooting) my sick horse.

  11. Tom says

    A dissenting voice here. I found this essay–and it is an essay–just really sad. Why take such a hypercritical view of people? Life is too short.

  12. says

    I love the way you ended the article :) If I had a dime for how many times I think to myself when listening to other people “get to the point already, we’re loosing daylight here and my attention span is already in minus!”……

    I also liked the “not spend your life in fear”-part. That kinda motivated me to just go ahead and make a damn video. Any kind of video, where I just talk or review something. I’ve been holding back of that, cause English is not my first language and I don’t believe I speak English that well… so, afraid of how it will be received I suppose :)

  13. says

    Having lived both in the South *and* the Northeast, I tend to go between beating around the bush and total and complete directness. It turns into quite the balancing act for me.

    Great, entertaining, and thought-provoking post.
    All the best!

  14. says

    I can take a hint.

    Mwahahahaha! I have a pal who’s an ex-scientist; he’s got a magical ability to cause people eyes to roll up into their skulls – they talk about having a sandwich and he starts to explain the molecular structure of lettuce.

  15. says

    It’s good to think of these rules in the context of music journalism, too. When I write a concert review it’s always a struggle to find that workable balance of honesty and humbleness. I’ll be keeping this list close by for when the battle to balance gets tough.

  16. says

    Laughing, Carl. That was my ex husband. The answer to every technical question started with the creation of Arpanet.

    Entertaining and thought-provoking as always, Jon.

  17. says

    Haha!! What a great read! I work with someone that has all the traits of #1, #2, #4 & #6!! Yeah, it’s just one person…all those condescending, loud mouthed, full of sh*t, fake qualities rolled up into one!

    Thanks for giving a moment to relate and vent. I hope I never come across as any of the above!

  18. says

    Absolutely one of the best posts I have read in a while! Ever notice when you have a mindset about something, some article or blog post seems to confirm what you were thinking?

    You just confirmed something I needed to address. Thanks for this!

  19. says

    Every once in awhile you need a little slap on the cheek, a sort of verbal cold shower to bring that self-awareness out of the wings to center stage. Number three. Right here. That’s me all too often. I get hung up on the “passing your intellectual property” along thing to the extent, I suspect, it feels a bit clinical. I’m working at getting “me” into the posts. Thank you for providing the pill today. Much appreciated.

  20. says

    This post is probably more revealing than you meant it to be. At times it sounds like you are talking about people YOU wish would shut up. At other times it sounds like you are trying to rile up a mob and impose some good ol’ fashioned tyranny of the majority (people “everyone” wishes would STFU… you like speaking for the group, don’t you? Shall I get out my pitchfork and get in line behind you? Let’s lynch those windbags, shall we?).

    At times you sound apologetic for behaviors you seem to find in yourself. Other times, you sound like you are just rationalizing your gut dislike for certain types. You pay lip service to “striking a balance” but it is crystal clear that your own bias is towards getting certain people to STFU, rather than looking past their unfamiliar and possibly annoying (to you) style to potential substance. You rail against people who aren’t “finishers” and yet you denigrate those who speak from a peak of genuine accomplishment. Sometimes a know-it-all DOES in fact know it all in his/her domain and isn’t just in “entitlement” mode. Sometimes non-finishers can bring kindness to a world dominated by bloody-minded finishers.

    You want to claim credit for inviting dissent, yet this post itself is a brilliantly-crafted attempt to create an echo chamber and shut dissent up, short of turning comments off.

    While a bias towards short and pithy is understandable on a site about copywriting, you vastly overstate your case. A views B as “long-winded.” B views A as not nuanced enough, and rushing hastily into action. KISS (keep it short, stupid) advocates think they are being decisive and action-oriented. “Let’s think through” ers think the KISSers are running around like headless chickens, mistaking git ‘r done rhetoric and bumbling for action-orientedness. You rather thoughtlessly group people who simply have different conversation norms with people YOU think are “speaking out their a**” (and yet might be saying something valuable, if only you’d suspend judgment for a while).

    Bottomline: your post just makes me sad, and pessimistic about the future of blogging if opinions like this were to rule. Sometimes stirring the pot is good, when done with clear good faith. This sort of thing just serves to radicalize and polarize web discourse and create insular silos of groupthink.

    Let a million voices rule.


  21. says

    I LOVE this post!! I am guilty of shutting up far too often and love how you’ve blended both sides of the coin here. I need to print this one and read often. Thanks.

  22. says

    Laughing, Nick. Me too. :)

    @Venkat, while I think Jon can do just about anything, somehow I am not terribly worried that this post is going to create any insular silos or polarize the Web. Sure, he puts things strongly. No, he doesn’t qualify everything he says or point out every possible exception. That’s one reason I enjoy reading him so much.

    Do I recognize myself in some of these? Of course I do. Do I think Jon sees himself in a few of them? Absolutely. Is this the end of the world? Not so much.

  23. says

    @ justbloglah lol. I know what you mean. If they just stopped talking and complaining for a while they might actually finish some work.

  24. maggie chicoine says

    Stir the pot…stir the pot…wonderful post to add to my repertoire. Thanks!

  25. says


    Ever consider that it is YOU and the limited time you’ve been reading copyblogger, that makes it difficult for YOU to “look past their(Jon’s) unfamiliar and possibly annoying (to you) style to potential substance.”?

    Life took away Jon’s mobility. All he has is his voice, which he relays through words. He’d never advocate “shutting people up.” He’s here to help, as his article so clearly shows in numerous places throughout the piece.

    Relating to one of your own posts; you need to study the parrot a little longer sir.

  26. says

    That’s an excellent article!!! I ran into someone like that once. He thought he was SOOO smart and he was clueless beyong clueless. What’s more, he was using his stupidity to discriminate against a religion he knew nothing about, when that religion hadn’t even been brought up to begin with. I blocked and unfollowed him on Twitter without bothering to respond.

    At the same time, all of us probably have offended on at least one of the above points here and there, even when not in such extremes. It’s good to keep them in mind to try to avoid them :)

  27. says

    Shane: I did not know that about Jon, and should it really make a difference? Seems to me mitigating my speech for that reason would actually be a bad thing.

    As for what he’s advocating, it was NOT clear to me that he’s trying to help in good faith, or being ironic about shutting people up, or only engaging in self-deprecating humor.

    You and Sonia both clearly know Jon well, and perhaps that familiarity allows you to read the article in a way strangers cannot. If you need “insider” familiarity to read a voice in a community, that to me suggests a silo.

    Perhaps I did over-react, but I found the developing assumed consensus pretty objectionable.

    As for the parrot, hey! leave my mascot out of it. Actually, my mascot is now a scrap metal sculpture of a cat I call “skeletor.” Will post a meditation about him soon :)

    I know I’ve been disruptive here for the past week (though I’ve been lurking for a while), but you guys just bore the brunt of one of my rare moody commenting-spike weeks. The irony of this is, I’ll probably STFU and go silent on this site the moment the spike energy runs out. Once every few months, some unfortunate blog receives my attention. Sorry it was you guys this time :)


  28. says

    My years of interaction with others has taught me that when something truly bothers me about another, that annoyance is an insight into an aspect of my own character.

    But that’s just me.

  29. says

    “mitigating my speech”?

    I suggested you study Jon some more to get a clearer picture of the man, not submit to speech migitation sessions.

    I mention his condition as a reference point to illustrate how obsurd it would be for Jon to advocate killing speech. The more you know about someone, the more informed your judgement of them will be.

    I speak for myself, by the way, not the site. I speak as a reader of content that I’ve valued since the sites beginning. This blog is no silo. Comments are open and no password is needed. Vigorous debate is awesome and I’d miss yours if you stopped.

  30. says

    Great article Jonathan.
    Just today I was thinking of
    couple of those people.

    They seem to think they are the most educated
    or competent and that gives them the right to look
    down on everyone else. It is so friggin’ annoying!


  31. says

    i hate that kind of people very much…just wanna leave them as soon as i got them in action…it’s a bad habit…makes other feel unconvinient

  32. says

    You know, Ben Franklin had a hard time with this problem in his youth. He would just browbeat people until they agreed with him.

    In his autobiography, he describes how he overcame the problem with questions and qualifier statements. He would start statements with “I may be wrong, but…” or “it seems to me…” and he found a marked improvement in his responses from people. I’ve tried applying this to my own conversation, and it really makes a differdffence. I find that people don’t mind being challenged, as long as it is a challenge to the idea and not the person. Excellent post.

  33. says

    WTF? That post was too f’in long. :)

    Are you sliding into the porn industry? I only ask because after this post, I can only imagine the crazy searches you are going to get. I was thinking of listing a couple, but I don’t want to help you with that…. :~)

  34. says

    How about freakin’ contrarians? These folks always have to take the opposite point of view from the rest of the commentators – like being contrary makes them superior somehow.

    Here’s a great big, steamin’ cup of STFU for the whole lot of ’em.


  35. says

    Yeegads! Numbers 1 and 4 are my worst nightmares. I find it real hard with people like this – I find while they are rambling on with their litany, I have not heard too much because my mind is all over the place imagining what I would like to say or do to them, or what else I could be doing right then.

    Great post and love some of the comments too.

    Celebrate Life and Ignore the Bores

  36. says

    Loved the post . So Many things there that are so true. The way i think about things and treat people is to make sure that everything I do is how I would like to be spoken too or treated myself. That way i have a good balance

  37. says

    I agree on all points. On point #1, I have to add that there are a few people out there who can find the universal emotion and find fun and interest in the mundane. When these people write their personal blogs, I read, and subscribe.

  38. Am says

    Awesome post.
    Well the bottom line is …if you think you have a point to make belch it out. If somebody says STFU you counter it with WTF.


  39. says

    Nice post. I’d venture to say that all people who fall into one of the seven categories listed also have a common problem – they’re terrible listeners. I can tolerate people that won’t shut up, but it really ticks me off when people don’t listen because they’re too busy thinking about what they’re going to spout off on next.

  40. says

    Wow! Well-said.

    It’s interesting that to the Type#5 people I come off as too direct.

    When I get wound up on a topic I’m in danger of becoming Type#7.

    Thanks for this clever, on-target and timely post.

  41. says

    The irony: “…I’ll ignore you with the politest of Southern smiles.”

    Which is *exactly* the Southern way of indirectly indicating you find someone a bore.

    Try asking “What’s your point?” if you want to be direct. 😉

  42. says

    Great post but..

    Nah, number 7 I don’t agree with at all. Why?

    Here’s an example of one of the longest blog post I have ever seen. Not mine but here it is..


    It’s one of the best post I’ve read, detailed, and right at end, the writer even rewards everyone a pdf file. Comments left on that blog is as long as the carpet in my mansion….that’s in my dreams.

    It’s like same argument with short sales letter and long sales letter. Those who read it, were those who are seriously into it.

    Still, I like your article touches on other areas I totally agree on. I like number 6.

    Cheers and great tips!

  43. says

    Well said, I think I’ve met every one of these types on your list, and I’m sure I’ve been 1 or 2 of these people at one time or another. These are important to remember especially for business owners so they don’t act this way towards their customers, or they can kiss their profits goodbye.

  44. says

    “Cold fishes” are not always from the language, but also from the format of articles as well. It is hard to read long posts without any bold, italic, underline, etc, marking important parts, isn’t it?

  45. says

    Great advice. Have read this post at least 20 times and still allowing it to guide my focus, especially no.7 (get to the point).

  46. says

    in reading this list of unpleasant attributes i can’t help but ask the question, “why do people do these things in the first place”?

    I have concluded that we actually train people to do this, i.e., to think in terms of hierarchy and competition. it’s a holdover from the industrial revolution and factory management.

    This is a fixable problem, not a chronic illness. the real answer is not any one thing, but just ask yourself if you are truly connected with your audience. The first rule of artistic performance (sez me) is honesty, followed closely by connection and cognizance.

    these narcissistic states are not really natural, they help no one, and those who suffer from them need our help, not our condemnation.

  47. says

    Damn! Now, let me go back and see if there is a “me” in that list. If there is, that “me” better be ready for the gallows.

  48. says

    Brilliant article! Have met too many of the type #6 and #7…and #2. One particular person I know basically has all of these types. MPD? Maybe…

  49. Rich says

    But you forgot the most important of all. The naysayer who doubts everything everybody else says. Of course, nobody could possibly do what they haven’t achieved, and is therefore way over the top. If someone says they have done things, which most people strive for, why not tend to believe people? Life should be exciting, not a daily comparison to other people whilst trying to control your insecurities.

  50. says

    GREAT post! I definitely have to work on the last one. Loved how you used STFU haha, I found that funny

  51. says


    Great article. Let me just say, I too am from the South, and love #5. Drives me CRAZY when people hem and haw and can’t just say what’s on their mind, and that’s one thing I DEFINITELY don’t hold back on. I’ll tell you RIGHT NOW how I feel, and anyone wanting things “Sugar Coated” came to the wrong amigo. :)

    Keep up the great posts!

  52. says

    LOL… as I was reading your post I just realized earlier today I had dealt with a salesperson who met 6 of the 7 STFU types you described.

    Unfortunately, far too many sales people and people trying to sell their stuff end up strongly behind one of these types in their approach.

    And the worst part about it… they have no idea they are doing it.

  53. says

    I can’t believe I read through all those comments, with interest in most of them. This post definitely reminded me of a post i read on here talking about create something controversial or debatable to get comments. It definitely worked as there already has been opposing views. I’d say ‘without beating around the bush’, do what works for you. Some people may have a cult like following that loves what someone else perceives as ‘need to stfu’.

  54. says

    Yes most of the times I am silent. I do not talk much.May be it is fear of rejection.I do not like to boast.I hate when people boast or talk loudly.I do not like to gossip.I have started my blog recently.mukeshshahri.blogspot.com .I do get ideas to write but as you said by the time I sit to write they vanish.
    One thing I can not do is to critsize the society,persons,sportsman or actors. In general no critsism for me.I can only write on sprituality,which some times I feel is a dry subject. But then for my own pleasure I would love to write.

  55. says

    good ~do what works for you. Some people may have a cult like following that loves what someone else perceives as ‘need to stfu’.!

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