7 Times When It's Better to Stay Quiet

Last update: 20 September, 2015


Do you ever feel like you put your foot in your mouth? At some time or another we’ve all found ourselves in situations that cause us to say something without meaning to. Maybe we made a joke that ruined a special moment or made a careless comment. The truth is, there are times when it is better to stay quiet in order to avoid unnecessary conflict.

There are some situations when it’s just better to listen than speak. Many times, staying out of the conversation allows you to better understand those who are taking part in it. This is because you can observe their gestures and how they express themselves. Often, staying quiet is quite beneficial, and in these seven situations in particular, it’s best to hold your tongue.

1- When others are gossiping

People like to gossip, it’s as simple as that. It may seem entertaining and fun, but don’t fall into the trap of talking about others. The next time someone talks about your friends or someone you know, avoid making any comments. Just listen and you will learn a lot about not only the person who is talking, but also who they are talking about.

If they ask for your opinion about the person they are criticizing, the best thing you can do is either stay quiet or say something along the lines of “I believe they are doing the best they can.” Although it may feel a little uncomfortable in the moment, you will undoubtedly feel much better later on.

2- When others ask about your love life

“How was your date last night?” or “How’s your sex life?” are two very common questions, although they’re just a couple of many such inquiries we get into our love lives. These questions are usually asked by our friends, so responding with a wealth of information may seem innocent to us. But the best you can do with these types of questions is to remain mysterious.

The first reason is because you probably wouldn’t like your partner to respond to similar questions about you. But it’s also because speaking so freely about these kinds of topics makes you seem like someone who can’t be trusted. If you feel the need to comment on some kind of problem or need someone to listen to you, talk to your best friend or partner instead.

3- After a really obvious mistake

When someone messes up or makes a blatant mistake, it’s better to keep your thoughts on the situation to yourself. In the moments right after these kinds of things happen, often we can make hurtful or even false accusations, so by refraining from commenting, you avoid falling into this trap. Don’t give in to the temptation of telling that person they were wrong every chance you get. If you were the person who made the mistake, it’s okay to defend yourself against any accusation, but don’t try to make the person who was wrong feel ridiculous. You could end up coming across as pretentious, which is much worse.

4- When you are the expert

We all excel at something, but going through life shouting it from the mountain tops is not the best thing to do. Although you may feel the need for others to recognize your expertise, try only mentioning it when truly appropriate. For example, during a dinner with family and friends, set your focus on being thankful for the time you are spending with them. You will have the opportunity to talk about your work expertise at the office or during a business dinner with your boss.

5- If you know a secret that could work to your advantage

If you find yourself in a situation where you know something that could improve your life, your finances, or any other aspect, but would affect someone else’s wellbeing, don’t say anything. It can be a complicated situation because you may feel the temptation to say something, however saying something could paint you as someone who isn’t very trustworthy. Although you may not believe it, in this case, staying quiet could end up benefitting you more in the long run.

6- If you have no idea what others are talking about

Whether between friends or at work, at some point, we’ll all end up in a conversation where we know nothing about the topic of discussion. Although admitting that you don’t know anything about the topic may bruise your ego, it’s better than saying something inappropriate or something that could affect you in a negative way.

7- During arguments

Be quiet. Listen. Wait. These are the moments when we say things that we may later regret. It’s never a good idea to say something when you are upset. You can debate with your boss, your parents, your family…but if the debate turns into an argument, it’s better to stay quiet.

Wait until you are calm and can think about what you want to say more clearly. Even if you are right, wait, because the person on the other side of the argument is not going to understand you. It may be challenging to not say anything at first, but all you need is a little practice.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.