Top Ten Things Not to Talk About When Others Can Hear


This list is inspired by a weekend out-of-town and overhearing some of the darnedest things said by others.

Top Ten Things Not to Talk About When Others Can Hear

10. When others can hear you, do not ask your partner if they brought the money. If you do, at best we all know you’re okay to spend. At worst, the mugger behind you will love the confirmation you should be ripped off. (Could have whispered that one right?)

9 When others can hear you, do not ask a waiter if the food is good. If you do, at best he will tell you the truth, and you have no more information than when you arrived. At worst, he will tell you a lie, and you now have a choice to order or leave. (Gotta wonder why you came here in the first place)

8 When others can hear you, do not negatively comment on the neighborhood. If you do, at best everyone will ignore you. At worst, you will have offended Little Bubba, who just happens to be the POA president and local gang lord. (I guess that answers the question about your missing tires when you return to your car now on cement blocks)

7 When others can hear you, do not ask the butcher if he has any better cuts of meat. If you do, at best he will say that all his cuts are on display. At worst, he will be offended at the implication of poor quality and explain to everyone in line you are obviously not a judge of good meat. (Better than being chased around the store by a half-crazed man with butcher knife)

6 When others can hear you, do not discuss your plans for the evening. If you do, at best you’ll sound like an idiot. At worst, the local cat burglar who followed you here will make note of the hours of your absence from your house.

5 When others can hear you, do not complain about your neighbors. If you do, at best those that hear have no idea who you or your neighbors are. At Worst, those that hear are relatives of your neighbors and are now approaching you with malice in their eyes. (As a side note they are all members of the Dingle Brothers kickboxing team.)

4 When others can hear you, do not answer the question “how you doing?” with anything but “fine.” If you do, at best your story will sound a notch south of pathetic. At worst, you will come home to a ringing phone, and it will be your mother calling to find out what is the problem. (If it was that bad you should have told her. Right?)

3 When others can hear, do not try to impress them with your knowledge of anything. If you do, at best you will sound pompous. At worst, the person hearing you will be an expert in the area on which you are pontificating and be quick to point out how wrong you are. (Man, who was to know that guy was an oenophile?)

2 When others can hear you, do not try to get a better price on a car. if you do, at best the sales person will try to direct you to an office. At worst the sales person will announce loudly that the car is below cost now and can’t take one more penny off. (Imagine that. The price is $100.00 over the sticker.)

1 When others can hear you, do not try to talk the police officer out of a ticket. If you do, at best you have guaranteed the officer will write one up. At worst, you might be the cause of a call for backup and a charge of trying to bribe an officer. (Your offer of “Ten Bucks” for the Policeman’s Ball ticket was a little out of line.)


  1. Good advice and i know that some of the things you mention we automatically do in public. I will be keeping my voice very low from now on. lol thank you.

    1. Yes, whisper. Thanks Adele.

  2. When others can hear you, do not fart. If you do, at best you will clear the room. At worst, you will be judged the winner and have to buy drinks for all present. (You didn’t know there was a competition?)

    1. Excellent point. (and raised a third reason in my head which will remain with me.)

      1. Nothing to fo with Jack Nicholson’s character’s third thing to remember when you get older in ‘THe Bucket List’, I hope.

      2. Gotta watch the underwear

  3. Those were hilarious, John. The comments were funny also. 😀 — Suzanne

    1. The comments are usually the best part. 🙂 Thanks Suzanne.

  4. 11) ….don’t make insane pronouncements about constructing giant walls across the country. At best, everyone will think you’re a lunatic. At worst, you’ll become President and start World War III.

    1. Could be a problem. Thanks Dale.

  5. #10 is related to a funny story that I agreed to let my daughter tell some day on her blog. Suffice it to say, it’s a good rule. #4 is one that should be posted in the kitchen of every office. I asked a coworker once: “how are you?” and received a lengthy description of the progress he was making with his kidney stones.

    1. Thanks Dan. The “how are you” is a big trap sometimes.

      1. My best friend used to say “whoa, no essay”

  6. #4 always drives me nuts. If I say ‘fine’ then people call me anti-social and ignore me for the rest of the event. If I say more than that then I overshare or I’m called negative because I decided to be honest. Just can’t win.

    As for #1, that’s why God invented cleavage. Though it doesn’t seem to be very effective for guys and leads to awkwardness on the highway.

    1. Ha ha ha. I could see the attempt at male cleavage now.

      1. Sadly, plumber’s crack doesn’t count as good cleavage. I shall always remember Timothy and his brave attempt to get out of speeding ticket.

  7. “Little Bubba”…ha ha! These were great, John. The card at the top is perfect!

  8. LOL… John, I have to confess. I’m repeatedly guilty of #4… I just can’t help myself. I love to watch the befuddled, astonished looks on their faces when I answer with something honest — knowing full well that they never had the slightest interest in any answer but the obligatory “Fine.”
    Sometimes you just have to mess with people. 😈
    Monday mega hugs!

    1. Somehow I knew you would comment on #4. You made me laugh. Thanks.

      1. John, if I made you laugh then my day is complete. Hmmm I think I’ll give myself the rest of this snowy Monday off. 😀

      2. Yeah. Take it off.

  9. Great advice, John, for everybody using their cellphones in public (and chattering away like mad). 😉
    Have a great day,

  10. What a great list, John. Sadly, I have done a few of those things, usually with the “worst” results. Lol If only I have read this post first… 😃

    1. Thanks, Rhani. I think we all have.

  11. THIS is a fabulous list! So many had me laughing out loud.
    Fortunately, I’m not guilty of any…so far 🙂

    1. Ahem. Me too. *cough*

  12. Oh gosh. I was talking about an organization the other night in a bar. I turned around, and who was standing there but a former president of that organization?!? I need to remember not to talk about anything when out in public. Ha.

    1. That’s when you say, “It was so much better when you were President.”

  13. These are wicked good. All the things we hear around us as people talk on the phone about the most private matters for all the world to hear. I liked it better when people didn’t share their business. 😀 😀 😀

    1. Me too. There are things I shouldn’t hear.

      1. Isn’t that the truth! o_O

  14. These are so good, John! Every time I’m out of the house, I overhear people telling others things they shouldn’t be saying. (Makes for wonderful eavesdropping for my writer self, but ack! who wants to hear all those gory details of someone’s surgery??)

    1. Yeah I know what you mean. YUK

  15. I’ve met so many travelers over the years that would greatly benefit from your sage advice, John.

    1. I’ll bet. I overheard two thirty somethings tell the waiter they were in a rush and could they finish in an hour. He was nice and I was thinking “Sorry ma’am I’m not qualified to give sexual advice but it only takes me ten minutes.”

      1. I’ve been reading you and learning.

  16. Really good advice and funny too! I have been guilty of #9 which is totally useless. Comments were funny too! With cell phones I hear WAY too much stuff that I don’t want to hear. Have a good week.

    1. You as well. Thanks

  17. Reblogged this on Kim's Author Support Blog and commented:
    Thank you, John, for another Top Ten Things Not To Do 🙂

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