We've all heard it:
If you don't have anything nice to say,
don't say anything at all.
I began there [as an adult, because apparently I didn't pay close enough attention during Bambi as a child], but I think I've found that it's not enough.
People aren't stupid. Yes, we should all exercise self-control, but when someone tells you they've decided to name their child "Herbert Magellan III" and all you respond with is silence because you don't want to say something rude.... it's awkward and it clearly communicates to that [eccentric] parent that you don't have anything nice to say and you are doing your best to literally bite your tongue despite the vision of the future you're seeing in your head of sweet little Herbie the Third getting shoved into a locker and having his lunch money stolen.
So, what should we say? Well, we shouldn't lie. That's bad. But, can't we just not be awkward and FAKE nice? Can't we be REAL nice? Maybe we simply try to understand the other person better. Maybe they don't need our approval or opinions, but need us to care. So, maybe we say, "Those are different names than most people choose, what led you to pick them?" Maybe they'll tell all about their great-granddad who left some incredible legacy and they want to honor his memory and preserve that story by passing on his name. BAM. Right there, you've got something nice to say now. Something like, "Oh, wow! He sounds like he was an incredible man, that's a great namesakes for your baby!"
Maybe someone you know gets a tattoo that looks like a Lisa Frank sticker. You don't have to say that you like their tattoo, but you can still be nice. "You toughed your way through getting a tattoo!? You're a stud!" See... you thought it'd be a girl, huh? Maybe not. Maybe we also need to work on being presumptuous? Or something like, "Man, they really captured the vividness of the spectrum of that rainbow." Either way, maybe that friend is waffling now in the wake of the decision to get that rainbow and kitten tattooed forever upon flesh and an encouraging word from you might be uplifting, but even an awkward silence can be discouraging.
When we actually care about people... who they are, what they're like, how they work... being nice can be much easier!
Now, we've all heard this one too:
So in everything, do to others as you'd have them do to you...
This takes us a step farther. We can't just not be rude... we need to be nice. Encouraging. Loving. Caring. Honestly interested. Uplifting.
So, let's quit just biting our tongues awkwardly and actually become people who have nice things to say. Let's quit rolling our eyes when people aren't looking [or when they are] and become people who are genuinely interested in others. Let's quit thinking we know what people are saying and actually listen to them... and when we don't understand... make an effort to instead of brushing them off.
Let's be spirit filled and let what our mouths speak
be the overflow of our hearts.
Do we get that? If we have nastiness in our hearts then we'll have to be biting our tongues because we won't have nice things to say. If we are filled with love, and joy, and peace, and kindness, and gentleness, and goodness then that's what will naturally flow out of our mouths and this struggle to not "word vomit" [or awkwardly bite our tongues] will become MUCH easier.
I say this recognizing that there are some people and some situations in which truth needs to be upheld and it won't feel good, or situations in which criticism can be good, like a teacher grading a paper... but generally, c'mon. I'm working on this... or rather it's being worked on in me... and I'm ashamed of not just my behavior and words in the past but my heart, too. Will you stop just not being rude with me?