I was having a conversation with a friend the other day, telling him about a time not long ago when someone said to me, “I didn’t have anything nice to say, so I didn’t say anything at all.”
We’ve all heard this in various forms before. I’m sure I’ve even repeated it offhand, reminding someone that it is better to be quiet than to be mean. “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That’s old. And to some extent, it’s true. If you can only think of shitty things to say, then just keep your mouth shut.
But if you can only think of shitty things to say, you have a lot of work to do. Because you can always be kind. Always.
Last week, my band performed a big show here in our little town. And watching the show was a friend who I know doesn’t particularly like my singing style. It’s not her thing, and that’s fine. But she came to the show. And you know what she said afterwards? She said, “The sound was great!”
And she was right. The sound was great. And that mattered. I love her for not just keeping quiet because the music we make isn’t her jam. She found something nice to say, to show her love and support.
Because there’s always something nice to say.
Someone got a haircut, tattoo or piercing you don’t like? Don’t say it looks like ass, because that’s douchy. And it makes it all about you. Who cares if you don’t like it? Someone’s haircut, tattoo, piercing, music, painting, and general lifestyle choices have nothing to do with you and how you feel about them. So don’t make it about you.
And don’t keep your mouth shut, because you know what? That’s also douchy.
You know she wanted to get that buzz cut. You know he wanted that rising phoenix tattoo. You know she wanted that eyebrow piercing.
Try “Hey! You finally got your hair cut! Good for you!”
Try “Wow, look at the colours in that tattoo!”
Try “I’m proud of you for finally getting that piercing. You’ve been talking about it for a long time.”
Try “Are you happy? Then I’m happy for you.” And mean it.
Someone wearing something that’s not your style? Compliment the colour.
Someone making art you don’t appreciate? Commend them for being brave, and putting their art out there for the world to judge. That’s a hard thing to do.
Someone invite you for dinner but then serve something that was barely palatable? Enjoy their company, and tell them you enjoyed their company. Thank them for their effort. Be gracious. Be kind.
Being quiet isn’t kind. Being quiet is a cop-out. Being quiet speaks volumes. Being quiet is a shitty way to be with the people in your life.
Don’t be quiet. Be kind.