If it is not truthful and not helpful, don’t say it.

If it is truthful and not helpful, don’t say it.

If it is helpful and not truthful, don’t say it.

If it is truthful and helpful, wait for the right time.

This is attributed to the Buddha. Whoever said it was wise.

I remember sharing this with a group of student leaders who were stuck working together for more than forty hours a week for two months in the summer. Tension and frustrations would mount occasionally, and it seemed noble to want to communicate forthrightly, honestly. But just telling it like it is was not always helpful.

I’ve seen too many people hurt by friends, coworkers, and family members simply “speaking the truth” or “telling you how I feel”.

The truth can hurt, and not always in a constructive way. If the truth is not also helpful, keep it to yourself. Making that judgment call can be tricky at times, but aiming for helpful should take priority over just speaking what you think is true.