Some situations call for a loud, strong response.
But others, not so much.
In fact, by voicing your opinion, you could end up causing more harm or stress for yourself.
I’ve had to learn this the hard way over the years, but I’m finally getting a knack for staying silent and protecting my peace.
Here are 9 such situations:
1) When you’re angry or emotional
Oh, the temptation. When you’re angry or your emotions are running high, it’s natural to want to get it all off your chest and release your frustration.
I used to run my mouth thinking it was good for me to let it all out.
Until I realized that I could very easily make a mountain out of a molehill.
You see, staying quiet during these moments allows you a chance to think. To assess whether you’re overreacting or not.
And not to mention, to avoid saying things you might later regret.
Remember, emotions come and go, but words, especially hurtful words, can’t be erased from other people’s memories.
So before you speak, make sure you’ve calmed down and aren’t coming from a place of intense emotion or anger.
2) During an argument when nothing productive is being said
We’ve all had arguments like this.
You and your partner, friend, or parent are going around and around in circles. Maybe one or both of you aren’t even making sense. Or, maybe the other person refuses to take on board what you’re saying.
Either way, both of you want to have the last word.
I’ll put it simply:
It’s not worth it.
You’re literally wasting energy by continuing an argument that isn’t going anywhere. If anything, you could be making it even more complicated and hard to resolve.
By staying silent, you’ll end up deescalating the conflict so you can come back to it at a more appropriate time.
3) When you don’t have all the facts
Well, the internet didn’t get the memo on this one.
Every Tom, Dick, and Harry seems to have an opinion these days without knowing diddly squat about what they’re talking about.
But that’s a rant for another day.
Here’s the thing:
It’s okay to say, “I don’t know much about this, so I’m not going to share an opinion.” Or, to just avoid saying anything at all.
Otherwise, you could end up spreading misinformation or making wrong assumptions about something you know nothing about.
4) When listening is more important
I can think of a few situations where I wished the other person had just stayed quiet…most notably:
- When someone is sharing something personal, important, or sensitive
- When someone is explaining their feelings
- When someone is going through a hard time and just needs to be heard
I know it’s tempting to jump in and share your own experiences. It’s just a way of connecting and showing you understand what the other person is going through.
But ultimately, sometimes people just need to be heard. And for that to happen, you need to listen and avoid interrupting them or turning the conversation back to yourself.
5) In situations requiring confidentiality
Here’s the thing:
If you breach a confidentiality agreement, whether that’s regarding a personal lawsuit or a company policy, it could have very serious consequences.
So even though it might be tempting to tell your best friend of 20 years who you trust more than yourself, don’t.
All it takes is one little slip-up and you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.
6) When the timing is wrong
Timing is everything.
Even if what you have to say is important, if you do it at the wrong time, you could end up making the situation worse.
That’s why it’s best to stay silent and wait for the right opportunity.
I wanted to confront a flatmate once about some of his bad habits, but I got the sense that he was very stressed out so I left it for a later date.
In the meantime, our other flatmate decided she couldn’t wait to talk to him. She did it as soon as she got home from work. Of course, he reacted defensively and even stopped speaking to her.
I ended up waiting for a few weeks until I saw that he was less stressed and his workload had decreased.
We ended up having a really productive conversation over a cup of tea, and he took on board all of my complaints.
Just goes to show the power of timing.
7) When it’s not your place to speak
If the conversation doesn’t involve you, you don’t need to give your input.
Whether it’s out of respect for the other people involved or to avoid getting dragged into other people’s drama, this is another situation where staying silent is the best thing to do.
My partner learned this the hard way – he’d overhear family complaining and would try to give them advice (unsolicited, of course).
It always backfired and he’d end up being snapped at by his parents or siblings.
It wasn’t until his therapist actually told him to just stop getting involved in things that don’t concern him that he saw the value in staying quiet.
Lo and behold, his family treated him better, and he was less stressed and concerned about everyone else’s problems.
Hopefully, I’ve just saved you a therapy session with this advice.
8) When silence can de-escalate a situation
Whether it’s at home, in public, or the staff meeting room, sometimes staying silent is the best way to de-escalate a tense situation.
I remember being in a bar once, and a girl thought I was trying to push past her in the queue. I wasn’t, but the people behind me were pushing.
I tried to explain this to her, but I could see she was drunk, angry, and looking for a fight.
So, rather than try to fight my corner, I let her run her mouth for as long as she wanted. And boy she went on for a while.
But I just stood calm and quiet, and in the end, her own friends dragged her away, completely embarrassed and apologetic.
Imagine what could have happened if I felt the need to get the last word in – my night would have certainly been ruined.
9) When asked a question you shouldn’t answer
And finally, if someone asks you a question you don’t want to or need to answer, stay silent.
This might occur if someone:
- Is asking inappropriate questions
- Is baiting you into an argument
- Is trying to get confidential information from you
Obviously, you can also firmly say “no” but you should absolutely not give in to someone who’s provoking you or using you for information.
Even if they’re very persuasive, or you simply feel like getting it off your chest, try to focus on what the future consequences could be.
I know this isn’t always easy, but it could save you a lot of aggravation later down the line.
So, there we have it, 9 situations where the best thing to do is stay silent.
Ultimately, this is a skill that you’ll have to work on, especially if you’re a loudmouth like me. But it’s not impossible to have this level of self-control. As they say, practice makes perfect!
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