Swinging After The Bell

One of my favorite sayings is, “You’re swinging after the bell.”

It comes from the classic movie, Twelve O’ Clock High, with Gregory Peck as General Savage meeting with General Pritchard. General Pritchard asks him, ”When will you be able to come back to headquarters, I need you here?” General Savage gives an evasive answer and goes off track, rambling on about all the problems that still need to be addressed. General Pritchard interrupts him saying, “You’re swinging after the bell.” 

I was reminded of the saying while attending a luncheon for veterans in Excelsior on Veterans Day. The speaker, a Marine Helicopter pilot, started off well enough, sharing his story of how he became a helicopter pilot. The problem was, he didn’t know how or when to stop the story. He just kept talking for about an hour. Swinging after the bell. And, you can throw in the “curse of knowledge” too. He spoke freely and frequently about the different types of helicopters, using initials that only helicopter pilots and ground crews would know about.

You may come across this phenomenon in job interviews. I remember one nervous candidate, after asking him the first question, who just kept talking for about 22 minutes before I finally interrupted him saying, “you’ve been talking for 22 minutes and we still have a few more questions we’d like to ask you.” Swinging after the bell.

For those of you who are wondering why I call it “swinging after the bell”? It actually refers to boxing, you are not supposed to keep throwing punches once the bell sounds ending that round.

Why is it important to not swing after the bell? First of all, it shows that you are not tuned in to your audience. You have to be blissfully ignorant of what is going on around you to keep blabbering when no one cares. And swinging after the bell exposes your inner stream of consciousness, one thought after another and then another, with no point or rhyme or reason to it all. It’s best to keep those kinds of thoughts to yourself!