9 scenarios in life where the best thing to do is stay quiet, according to psychology

Sometimes, silence really is golden. There are moments in life where not saying a word can be the most powerful decision you can make. Interestingly enough, psychology supports this notion too.

As Lachlan Brown, the founder of Hack Spirit, I’ve spent years delving into human behaviors and exploring the psychological nuances that govern our interactions. One thing I’ve learned? The art of staying quiet.

This isn’t about being shy or avoiding confrontation, but rather recognizing those crucial points when silence is the best response.

Here are 9 scenarios where psychology suggests that keeping your lips sealed might just be the wisest move to make.

Let’s dive in.

1) When you’re angry

We’ve all been there. The blood is boiling, the words are climbing up your throat, ready to burst out. It’s in these heated moments that we often spew out things we later regret.

Psychology tells us that when we’re angry, we’re not in the best state to make rational decisions or engage in effective communication. Emotions can cloud our judgment and distort our perspective.

In fact, research encourages practicing mindfulness during these periods of heightened emotions. That’s right – it’s not about unleashing your fury, but about taking a step back and allowing the storm to pass.

When you’re on the brink of an anger-induced outburst, it’s wise to let silence do the talking. It prevents things from escalating and grants you time to regather your thoughts and cool down.

When you find yourself fuming, remember – silence can be your best defense and your most powerful response.

2) During meditation

As Lachlan Brown, I’ve spent years studying and practicing Buddhism. One of the key elements in Buddhism is the practice of mindfulness and meditation.

Meditation is a time for silence, for inner reflection and self-discovery. It’s a moment where words are not necessary, and even considered to be distractions. As per Buddhist teachings, meditation requires letting go of all external distractions, including speech.

Psychology also supports this. Studies suggest that silence during meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve attention, and contribute to emotional health.

Whether you’re a seasoned Buddhist practitioner like me or just someone looking for peace of mind, remember that during meditation, the best thing you can do is to embrace silence. It’s a time to listen to your inner self, not to speak.

3) When you’re not sure what to say

I’ll be the first to admit it – sometimes, I’m just at a loss for words. We’ve all had those moments where we’re unsure of what to say. In these scenarios, it’s easy to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind, but that’s often not the wisest choice.

According to psychology, when you’re uncertain about your response, staying quiet can actually be beneficial. Silence gives you the chance to collect your thoughts and formulate a well-considered reply.

Moreover, it shows others that you’re taking their words seriously and giving them the consideration they deserve. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but remember, not every silence needs to be filled. Sometimes, it’s okay to take a pause and think before you speak.

4) When practicing listening

In Buddhism, one of the key principles is the importance of being present and fully engaged in the moment. This, of course, includes our conversations with others. Active listening isn’t just about waiting for your turn to speak, it’s about truly hearing and understanding what the other person is saying.

Psychology echoes this sentiment. Good listeners are often quiet not because they have nothing to say, but because they’re genuinely interested in understanding the perspectives of others. They’re present in the conversation, their focus is on the speaker, not on their own responses.

In my book Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego, I discuss how this principle of attentive listening can be a powerful tool for personal growth and improved relationships.

When you find yourself yearning to jump into a conversation with your own thoughts, take a moment to truly listen instead. Not only will you gain a deeper understanding of the other person’s viewpoint, but you’ll also be practicing a key Buddhist principle.

5) When you’re the expert

This might seem counterintuitive at first. After all, if you’re the expert on a topic, shouldn’t you be the one doing most of the talking?

Not necessarily.

Psychology suggests that sometimes, especially when you’re an authority on a subject, it’s more beneficial to hold back and allow others to express their thoughts and ideas. This can encourage open dialogue, foster creativity, and make others feel valued and included.

Plus, it provides an opportunity for you to see things from different perspectives and possibly learn something new. Because let’s face it – no matter how much of an expert you are, there’s always more to learn.

When you’re itching to dominate a conversation with your expertise, take a step back instead. You might be surprised by the insights that emerge when others are given the chance to speak.

6) When practicing mindfulness

In Buddhism, mindfulness is a fundamental principle. It’s about being fully present and aware of where we are and what we’re doing, without becoming overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s happening around us.

Applying mindfulness to our speech means knowing when to speak and when to hold back. It’s about understanding the power of words and using them wisely.

Psychology supports this too. Many studies show that mindfulness can have profound impacts on our mental wellbeing, including reducing stress and enhancing emotional regulation.

So, in scenarios where you may feel overwhelmed or overstimulated, it’s helpful to practice mindfulness and choose silence. This can help prevent impulsive or potentially harmful responses, promoting peace and clarity instead.

As the Buddhist saying goes, “Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace”.

7) When someone else needs the spotlight

We’ve all been in situations where someone else deserves to be the center of attention. Maybe they’ve achieved something great, or perhaps they’re sharing an important personal story.

In these moments, I’ve learned that sometimes the best thing I can do is to stay quiet and let them have their moment. It’s not about me, it’s about them.

Psychologists agree that giving others the room to express themselves without interruption can make them feel valued and heard. It shows respect and empathy, two key ingredients for building strong relationships.

When someone else should be in the spotlight, remember: your silence can be a powerful way of saying “I see you, I hear you, and this is your moment”.

8) When you’re right

Now, this sounds a bit counterintuitive, doesn’t it? If you’re right about something, shouldn’t you stand your ground and defend your position?

Not always.

There are times when arguing your point, even if you’re right, can do more harm than good. It can escalate conflicts, damage relationships, and create a hostile environment.

Psychology suggests that in such situations, it’s often more beneficial to choose peace over being right. This doesn’t mean you’re conceding or agreeing with the other party. Instead, you’re prioritizing harmony and mutual respect over winning an argument.

When you find yourself in a heated debate where you’re certain of your standpoint, consider if it’s worth the strife. Sometimes, silence can be a more victorious choice.

9) When observing impermanence

One of the core principles in Buddhism is the concept of impermanence, which refers to the idea that all things, including our thoughts and emotions, are transient and constantly changing.

This concept can be a helpful guide during moments of intense emotions or stress. By practicing silence, we allow ourselves to observe these feelings without judgment or reaction, understanding that they are temporary and will pass.

Psychology also supports this. Mindfully observing our feelings without reacting to them is an effective strategy for managing emotions and reducing stress.

Instead of reacting instantly, choose silence and observe your feelings as they come and go. It’s a powerful practice of mindfulness and emotional management.


And there you have it – nine scenarios where, according to psychology, staying silent can be the best course of action. Whether you’re practicing mindfulness, actively listening, or simply allowing others to have their moment, silence can be an incredibly powerful tool.

Remember, it’s not about avoiding conversation or suppressing your thoughts. It’s about knowing when to speak and when to listen, and understanding the impact your words can have.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Buddhist principles like mindfulness and impermanence can help you navigate life’s challenges with grace and wisdom, check out my book “Hidden Secrets of Buddhism: How To Live With Maximum Impact and Minimum Ego”.

Remember, as in all things, balance is key. Here’s to finding the perfect balance between silence and speech in your life. Cheers!

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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