Sometimes, you need to use your voice to speak out against injustice, to stand up for what’s right. Other times, silence really is golden. How do you know when to stay silent and when to speak up, though? It’s easy if you live by two simple rules. Read on to find out what they are.
Sometimes, Staying Silent Truly Is Better Than Speaking Up
Lately, it seems like everyone around us has things backward when it comes to staying silent versus speaking up. We’re keeping our mouths shut at times when we should be screaming from the rooftops, and we’re opening them wide enough to let in an airplane when we really should just sit down and be quiet.
When it comes to figuring out when to stay silent, there are two very simple rules that I follow.
1- If staying silent will hurt someone, I speak up. However, if speaking up causing more pain than staying silent, I keep my mouth shut.
2- If I didn’t see it, hear it, or at least verify it myself, I won’t repeat it.
Sounds pretty simple, right? Let me break it down for you, though.
Know when your silence is what’s needed to avoid causing pain
I don’t know how to put this any clearer. If your words will hurt someone and there’s absolutely no benefit in speaking up, then keep quiet. Let me give you an example because I feel like that’s a bit confusing.
My friend’s family fell apart after the election. Two sisters- let’s call them Alice and Suzy- stood on completely opposite sides, and both felt that they were absolutely right, of course. Things were fine, as long as they didn’t talk about politics. Then, Alice broke that rule. She opened her mouth and launched into a litany of reasons why Suzy was wrong.
Sure, Alice felt better getting some opinions off her chest, but it came at the expense of Suzy’s feelings. Plus, nothing changed. Alice’s words didn’t change Suzy’s political views. There was no real benefit, and they haven’t spoken since. Speaking out caused nothing but pain all around.
Of course, there are many times when speaking up is the right thing to do, even if it hurts someone you love. If you see your sister bullying another person, speak up on behalf of that other person. If your best friend is making racist comments, say something. Basically, if staying silent will cause someone pain, then please, by all means, open your mouth. Otherwise, hold that tongue.
If you didn’t hear it, see it, or verify it, don’t spread it!
This one is easier to explain. Ever since social media became a thing, the world has had a major problem with people spreading false rumors and blatant lies. I’m not even talking about politically speaking (although that’s a major part of it). Even simple things, like random “facts” spread like wildfire before anyone even bothers to find out if it’s true.
Did you know that a study found that Facebook spreads fake news faster than any other social media network? I know WAY too many people who believe everything they see on Facebook, no matter how outlandish it is. They hit the reshare button without even looking to see where the meme came from and whether or not it’s true. Within hours, it’s all over the place. Others think, “well, if it has this many shares, it must be true,” so they reshare it, too. This is how lies spread like wildfire, and it’s a major problem in the world right now.
Of course, this isn’t just a new problem, and it’s not just limited to social media. Long before we had Facebook, people were spreading rumors without looking into them first. Mary tells Beth that her niece’s friend’s hairstylist saw Sue coming out of a motel with another man. Beth tells another friend, who tells another, and it gets back to Sue’s husband.
Turns out, though, that Mary’s niece’s friend’s hairstylist just saw someone that LOOKED like Sue. Thankfully, Sue’s husband knows better than to listen to the rumor mill, so there’s no real damage done. It could have ended much worse, though!
The bottom line, know when silence truly is golden!
The point is, if you didn’t actually see something happen, hear it said, or verify that it’s real, don’t spread it. Plain and simple. Oh, and even if you DID see it if repeating it wouldn’t help someone but could very well hurt another, stay silent.
Following these two simple rules can save more than just your reputation, it can keep your relationships from falling apart. Plus, if we all learned when to stay silent, the world would be a much more positive and uplifting place, don’t you think?
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