You don’t get very far with silence. You won’t always know the right thing to say, and if you say what you think or feel you might get it wrong. That doesn’t mean the conversation that follows won’t be for the best. Saying the wrong thing can often be the impetus for the right discussion. It’s then that you find it’s better to say something stupid than nothing at all.
Image by TRF_Mr_Hyde.
David Finch, writing for Psychology Today, found this to be the case in a conversation he had with his wife Kristen — a woman who rarely complains and sweats the small stuff with an even lesser frequency. One day she did, and he called her crabby. He offered an explanation why. He felt it was something stupid to say, but it nonetheless led to something good:
Against all odds, I had brightened Kristen’s day by calling her out. What’s more, I had somehow invited a dialog that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise: With a surprising lilt in her voice she asked me how my day was going, I lied by saying nothing of my leg experiment, and just like that, the frustrations of the morning were behind her.
This situation could’ve gone in a different direction — and probably has for other couples. Kristen could’ve felt hurt by the comment, or simply angry and frustrated. But even if she felt that way, the comment would lead to a discussion and the discussion would lead to understanding. We’re often so worried about confrontation and the feelings of others that we don’t say much at all. We attempt to avoid hurting the feelings of others and, in the process, can also avoid knowing them.
While an abrasive approach to life isn’t a good one either, there’s a happy medium here. Say what you think, and don’t worry too much about the impact. Just have the confidence to continue the discussion kindly, explain yourself, and listen to the person you’re talking to. You may start off on the wrong foot by saying something stupid from time to time, but it’s how you handle the subsequent moments that really matters.