An Englishman’s never so natural as when he’s holding his tongue. ~ Henry James
I have often repented speaking, but never of holding my tongue.– Xenocrates
I suppose it is interesting to many that the day after I write about saying what you mean and meaning what you say I am changing topics and writing on holding your tongue. Why on earth would I do that??? The reason is… we are all human and we have to be able to find the balance.
I have learned that there are times when the best thing I can say is nothing at all and even the best thing I can do is nothing at all. It is important for us to feel comfortable understanding there may be times when the best way to solve a problem is to offer support and not really solve the problem.
I find that when I am working with mentally ill individuals or individuals who are drunk and/ or high, there is simply no reason to waste my breath to engage with and encourage the dysfunction. In these cases, I wait until the person is sober and see if they really are interested in my help and support.
Gossip circles are so easy to join – I often find that to be the case at my work….. this is a place (the water cooler conversations) where I really need to watch my tongue in order to make sure I do not hurt the feelings of others and also do not jeopardize my employment.
A few times at work I have had very unhealthy individuals scream and rant and rave at me. Once I responded by hanging up on the person (after a warning). I felt horribly guilty and had to call the woman back and apologize so that I would start sleeping again….. and another time I had an epiphany in the midst of the person’s partially fabricated rant. In that moment I realized how mentally ill the person was and also that they would struggle to maintain any sort of healthy life, which must have exacerbated their own stress levels. I knew from that moment that I would not be responding to the person who was ranting, as it was not worth engaging in any way. When they saw I was not engaging, then they really were not interested in me at all. It was an incredibly eye-opening and freeing moment. It is now a lesson I apply regularly.
Today, 293 days ’til 40, I remind myself that some things are best left unsaid and I will work harder to make sure that the words that come out of my mouth are words that will enhance a person’s life, instead of detract from it.