To Say or Not to Say
(On the Responsibility to Criticize)
by aLfie vera mella
"If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all."
I don't believe that. It's better that we qualify that particular statement first.
There are factors to consider like purpose and tactfulness.
By "nothing nice," what do we really mean? Hurtful? A truth? What if it's a truth and yet it may be hurtful to the person? Then, what's your purpose in wanting to say that to the person?
If the purpose is to ridicule or embarrass the person (just to satisfy your feeling of self-righteousness or cure your envious feelings), then keep quiet and don't say anything at all.
However, if you are armed with a higher purpose and good intentions; for instance, you want to let the person know that he is doing something that you think is wrong or unappealing, and that person matters to you, then say something so he could correct or change his ways.
If your intentions are good, you still have to consider tactfulness. Choose an appropriate way and place to say it. For instance, don't ridicule an erring student in front of the class; don't embarrass your friend in front of a crowd; don't call the mistake of a bandmate of yours right there during a performance; or don't criticize your child in front of her friends.
Instead, in a calm manner, talk to the person in private, send him a personal message, or write him a letter.
The Last Leaf
I believe that we have the responsibility to criticize or correct the ways of people that matter to us, for them not to remain trapped in such follies especially when they seem not to realize the repercussion of what they have been doing. The only challenge is how we are going to go about the positive criticism in a sincere, respectful, and tactful manner.
Therefore, nice or not-so-nice, if we have something to say to people who matter to us, we have to say it...in the right manner.