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There are many situations during which you might want to speak up, but speaking isn’t always the smartest thing to do. Actually, in a lot of situations, keeping your mouth shut is the best possible option.

Incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily routine can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions, allowing for a more measured response in situations where you might otherwise speak impulsively. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life” by Jon Kabat-Zinn is a great resource for beginners and seasoned practitioners alike.

Below, I am going to go over some of the situations during which many of us don’t realize we need to remain silent. While they might seem harmless, we end up doing more bad than good without realizing it during most of them. Sometimes it is better for us to say nothing than to hurt others and make things worse by continuing on.

7 Circumstances During Which You Should Keep Your Mouth Closed:

1. When your words reinforce bad behavior.

If the things you’re going to say are only going to make a situation worse or feed into the toxic things someone else is doing, stop talking. There is no sense in feeding this kind of thing when you have no reason to. It will only make things worse.

Emotional Intelligence 2.0” by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves offers insights into understanding and managing your emotions, as well as recognizing the emotional states of others. This can be particularly useful in assessing when silence might be more beneficial than speech.

2. When speaking, gives the others power over you.

If speaking on something will give others power over you or reveal something that doesn’t need to be revealed, stop talking. Keep your power with yourself, period. You do not have to answer to anyone but yourself at the end of the day.

3. When it only makes you more upset.

If talking to someone is making you upset and getting you more worked up than you should be, take a step back. You shouldn’t put yourself through more intense emotions over nothing. Know when to walk away, period.

4. When the person you’re talking to is blinded by anger.

If someone you’re talking to is blinded by anger, nothing you say is going to reach them. The more you try to get your point across, the angrier they will become. There is no sense in wasting your breath.

5. When it would hurt someone’s feelings unnecessarily.

If someone is already hurting and the thing you’re about to say isn’t important and will only make things worse, why bother? Doing this only beats them down further for no reason. There is absolutely no point in this.

To better understand when silence can de-escalate a situation, The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict” by The Arbinger Institute is an invaluable guide. It explores how resolving our own internal conflicts can lead to more peaceful interactions with others.

6. When you do not actually know what you’re trying to talk about.

In situations where you do not know what you’re talking about, do not speak up. Sure, asking questions is fine, but don’t try to pretend you know more than you do. That in itself will only make the situation worse as a whole.

7. When your words are going in one ear and out the other.

If the things you’re saying are going in the ear of someone and right back out the other, why waste your breath? The people who do not hear us out do no deserve our time, point-blank. Only speak to those who are willing to listen to what you have to say fully.

Finally, becoming a better listener can often inform when to choose silence over speaking. “Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone” by Mark Goulston offers techniques for improving listening skills, reinforcing the idea that understanding often precedes effective communication.

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