United States radio host Bernard Meltzer ran an advice call-in show from 1967 through the 1990s. Bernard is accredited with the following quote:
“Before you speak ask yourself if what you are going to say is true, is kind, is necessary, is helpful. If the answer is no, maybe what you are about to say should be left unsaid.”
Similarly, there is a canonical quote in the Buddhist tradition that reads:
"Monks, a statement endowed with five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people. Which five?
It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of good-will.
A statement endowed with these five factors is well-spoken, not ill-spoken. It is blameless & unfaulted by knowledgeable people."
The international service organization, Rotary, also has a 4-way test that they use to guide personal and professional relationships. Of the things we think, say or do...
Is it the truth?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
It’s really easy to not follow these tests. It’s really easy to say things out of anger or
frustration or jealousy.
In 2020, I want to do the hard work. Listen more and speak only if I can do so in a way that is truthful, necessary, and kind. Always.