There are times when it is imperative to speak your peace. Likewise there are times where the best thing you can do is zip it!
How many times has a well-placed word picked you up or brought hope into a seemingly hopeless situation?
Words have the power to heal and the power to hurt.
A proverb I learned as a child said it best
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.”
With the world seeming more topsy-turvy each day we need more hope and less anger. But how can you know when it’s the right time to speak your mind and when it’s time to give it a rest?
I’ve got you! Here is our guide to help you discern between the two.
When to Offer Your Opinion and When to Shut the Hell Up!
When to offer your opinion…
When you are asked for your opinion or your advice. It goes without saying that sometimes people just want to hear another perspective. They may have a blindside or simply trust your opinion. In this case, take a deep breath, think about your answer and proceed to offer your insights. You may be able to offer a great service to the person soliciting your thoughts.
Just remember to offer your thoughts without expectations. People are always going to do what they want in the long run.
For example, you highly recommend to a military spouse to live in on-post housing. You outline the benefits to her and maybe get a little too excited about the possibility that she’ll be your new neighbor. Then you find out that she decided to live off-base. Don’t take this decision personally. Instead invite her for meet for coffee at your favorite Starbucks location after she unpacks her household goods.
When you know what you’re talking about. Are you a veteran in your field or have thoroughly researched a topic and engaged it from several viewpoints? If this is the case, it’s likely your opinion is valid as an expert. You should go right ahead and pontificate within your realm of knowledge. Just be sure you’re current on the latest research and trends. The people want to hear your voice!
When you are an advocate. Do you have a cause? Are you concerned about a group or an issue that needs defense? First, be sure to investigate, read and become knowledgeable.
Then, by all means use your voice to speak out for the greater good. It is always the right time to work toward equity and all that is good. Be sure to also elevate the voices of those directly affect by your cause.
When to keep your mouth shut…
When you lack knowledge and experience. You will always have a right to your opinion, but you don’t always need to share it. Acknowledge when you lack the knowledge and/or experience to accurately speak on a topic.
Consider that your voice may be speaking over others who know more and have put in more work than you. In this situation, it’s OK to keep your comments to yourself.
For example, when a friend asks for advice on an unaccompanied short tour because his wife just got this assignment, I tell him “I don’t have any experience with that.” But I don’t just leave him hanging. I connect him with other military spouses who do have that knowledge and experience.
When it’s none of your business. Not everything concerns everyone. Are you intimately involved or does it impact you? If you answer “no” to those prompts, it’s a pretty good indicator your mouth should remain in the off position. Your “two cents” are not always warranted. Listen to Salt-N-Peppa. “It’s none of yo’ business!”
When your opinion may cause harm intentional or otherwise. Nowadays everyone hates the term “politically correct.” But have we stopped to consider what was politically correct to say in the not-so-distant past? People could casually drop gems about hitting their spouses or discriminating against groups based on race, sex or class.
Words mean things. If what you say may cause harm to someone else, there’s nothing wrong with choosing not to say it. You could also consider interrogating the root of your opinion.
Just as no one can make you talk, no one can make you be quiet. But please remember, when it comes to opinions, less is more!