How much does it cost to speak well of someone and to be kind?
There we were, ready to go out on a date night together.
She was glammed up and ready to rock. She looked beautiful, and she was happy and excited to spend some time with me. What more could I want? And yet, something was bothering me. It wasn’t a huge deal and was best left alone, but I decided to speak aloud my thoughts anyway.
“I don’t like that dress.”
She looked at me, and it was clear the atmosphere had immediately changed.
She was angry.
“Well, thanks. Now I feel great about myself. Why do you always say things like that?” She then said something that has stuck with me ever since: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.”
At the time, I’m sure I replied with something immediately, and I imagine it wasn’t helpful either — and it certainly ended my date night prematurely. I was an idiot back then. But as I’ve grown, this phrase has become the foundation for the way I think, interact, and build relationships with people.
It took me a long time to realize just how much impact the things you say can have on somebody. Words may seem meaningless, but the reality couldn’t be more opposite. They can single-handedly bring people down. Many people have confidence that can break easily. Others wear their emotions on their sleeves. The wrong words at the wrong time can crush an individual. And for what purpose? So you can air your opinions on something?
Negative words equal a negative life. The way you think has a significant impact on the way you feel about yourself. Talking poorly about others makes us feel horrible about ourselves. Not only that, speaking negatively about other people reflects poorly on you.
What makes words so powerful is that you can never take them back , and memory can last a lifetime. Once something is said, the impact it has can be long-lasting and hard to undo.
The simplest lines of advice are always the most effective. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything. Think about this one . How hard is it to just be nice to people? How difficult is it to put their feelings before your own? How much does it cost to speak well of someone and to be kind? Absolutely nothing. But you knew the answer to that already.
How do you implement this way of thinking? I use a simple method that only requires asking yourself two questions. Before you say something that toes the line between helpful and harmful, ask yourself :
Is your opinion invited?
What benefit will you gain by voicing it?
If you can’t answer yes to either, it’s time to keep those thoughts to yourself. If you’ve decided to press on regardless, you can reflect on it by asking the following question:
Was the outcome worth it?
In the majority of cases, the answer will, of course, be no.
Implementing this way of thinking can be a challenge. Nobody is perfect. Neither is this notion. Real-life is messy and complicated, and sometimes harsh words need to be spoken. But if you use it as a general relationship rule, it’s a great method of making sure you’re thinking with the right intentions.
You can’t control what other people say, but you can control the words that come out of your mouth. As easily as you can bring someone down, you can use your words to build somebody up. They can fill them with confidence. Best of all, they can put a smile on someone’s face.
By choosing your words carefully, you create happiness for yourself. In turn, your happiness spreads to others and empowers your relationships.