Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all. I don’t mean this in a cynical way. It is always important to stand up for yourself. I just mean that sometimes words aren’t the best way to solve a problem. I used to think that honesty is the best policy in all situations. Which it is, it’s not like I run around lying all the time. Plus I’d rather be hated for the truth than loved for a lie. That being said there are many times where my brutal honesty has done more harm than good. I’ve learned that there are times where it’s better to just sit on things for a little while. It is possible that our observations are correct, but it is equally possible that they might be a little slanted by our perspective. In commenting on a situation we know little about we might insult someone, or create an enemy where we could have had a friend.
Even when we’ve observed carefully and gathered all the facts there is a possibility that silence is the best option. Every human being on the planet is limited by their perspective. You could have the most valuable nugget of wisdom this person has ever seen right there in the palm of your hand and there is still potential that they won’t see it. I don’t think I’m a fountain of infinite wisdom or anything. I know there have been times where people have hit me with the truth and I haven’t wanted to believe it, so I’ve seen both sides of this coin first hand.
I used to think that conflict had to be resolved immediately. I would get completely unsettled if I “wasn’t good” with someone and wouldn’t be able to rest until I “fixed it.” Sometimes pushing people before they’re ready can just make the whole thing worse than it has to be. If the emotions are too fresh the situation could just be aggravated further. People say things they don’t mean and then one party or the other becomes completely standoffish because of the pain. Then even if they do have feelings of regret and want to reconcile they just remember that one hurtful thing and hesitate. Essentially constantly trying to fix things all the time became a self-fulfilling prophecy where I lost a lot of good people.
And then there are those times when our nearest and dearest come to us with an ear full. As previously stated, I’m a fixer, I always want to find the solution to the problem. Yet sometimes when our friends come to us with an issue advice isn’t what they need. They don’t need you to say or do anything. They just want to feel heard and validated. By saying too much you could say the wrong thing and put yourself in the crosshairs. I’m quickly learning that here, it’s likely best to ask your friend what they need from you and only offer advice when it’s requested.
Choosing silence is not the same as “doing nothing.” It is more about selecting your battles wisely. Knowing when to speak and when to wait for the right moment is a valuable skill.