It’s been said that it takes a long time to develop a good reputation but only seconds to destroy it. That can happen when we say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Whether it’s in person, on the phone, via email, or on social media, there are some times when it’s better to keep your thoughts to yourself.
When your boss’ mind is made up
I’m not advocating you never speak your mind or that you fail to share your experience and wisdom with your boss. I’m suggesting sometimes speaking up will do more harm than good. One of those times is when your boss has already made up her mind and she just wants you to get on board. That’s the time, more often than not, you’re better off keeping your thoughts to yourself.
When your friend wants to have the last word
You know what I’m talking about. It’s when your friend “knows” he or she is right and they clearly want to have the last word. Let them. Unless they are going to do irreparable harm to themselves or someone else, tell yourself, “This is the time to just keep my thoughts to myself.” If you do, both of you will be happy and the friendship will stay intact.
When your emotions are running high
One thing we all have in common is we have “buttons” that others can find and push. For some people, it’s a specific topic, and for others it’s when they feel they’re being criticized. If you’re feeling too hot under the collar or feeling defensive, keep quiet—at least for the time being. You can’t un-ring a bell and you can’t get the words back after they’ve left your mouth or your keyboard. And if you put it on the internet you might regret it forever–which is how long what you posted will be out there. Consider that and you just might decide it’s time to keep your thoughts to yourself.
When someone hasn’t asked for your advice
Just because someone has shared a problem with you doesn’t mean they want your advice. This is particularly true with social media. If you really care about the person and want to give them advice, pick up the phone and call them–don’t deal with it on Facebook. And if you call them, ask them if they want your advice before you jump in. You’ll rarely go wrong keeping your advice to yourself when it’s not solicited—and even then, think twice before giving it.
When it’s not positive
The moms of the world are right, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it.” I don’t mean that literally and I’m sure all our moms didn’t either. Be known as the person who lifts others up rather than the person who can see someone’s faults and failures. After all, if you hear me running someone down, how do you know I might not do the same to you when you’re not around? Let others do the criticizing—you be the person who knows it better to keep some things to yourself.