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  • Writer's pictureMichael Foglietta

Bite Your Tongue

We've all heard this phrase before. But do we bite our tongue all the time? Of course not. Things are said sometimes that we can't just take back. We try to apologize, say we didn't mean it, but there's no taking it back. The damage is done. If we don't bite our tongue and swallow our pride sometimes, there are hurt feelings, getting in trouble at work, criticism, even fist fights to road rage.

Biting our tongue is situational. Say you're having the same conversation with two different people, but at different times. One person is your best friend or a member of the family, someone who knows you well and knows your personality. The other person is a complete stranger or just an acquaintance. Let's face it, with a good friend, you're not going to bite your tongue. You are going to say exactly what you mean, no sugar coating or mincing words. But, this person knows you very well and expects the answer you give. With good friends, we're entitled to our opinions and we can express our opinions however we want with no hard feelings.

What happens when you say what you mean with a stranger or an acquaintance? Well, that person will probably remain a stranger or an acquaintance. The conversation will end abruptly. Probably some hard feelings, some talking behind your back to their friends. To most of us, that won't bother us at all because of our egos.

But being situational, there are some times where we shouldn't just speak our mind and just listen. For some though, that can be extremely difficult to do. I am guilty of doing that, just like you. You just sit there listening and the urge to say something makes your face turn red, your fists clinch, you curl your toes, anything you can do to keep from saying something. Hopefully whoever is around you doesn't notice your body language.

Let's say your sitting at a table at a bar or restaurant and you're listening to a conversation at the next table. You know what they are saying is completely wrong, but everyone else at that table are just soaking up what they think is knowledge. Do you go over there and assert your knowledge proving that the person speaking is wrong and embarrassing them beyond belief? I hope you say no. You hear them talking about something traumatic like the loss of a loved one. Do you go over there at a proper time and say you overheard their conversation and want to give your condolences? I hope you say yes. It just depends on the type of person you are.

After a traumatic event for example, people will be lining up to give you advice on how to deal with it. Someone's cousin's uncle's sister's brother has a friend that went through the same thing and this is how they dealt with it. Most of the time, people who are going through something traumatic don't want advice, they want someone to just listen, that's it. One of the worst phrases that anyone has ever said is, it could be worse. That does not help at all. Listening is an underrated skill but for people that know how to listen understand HOW to listen. Pay attention, eyes aren't wandering around, focus on the person.

Biting your tongue isn't just something you do when you're chewing food. That's just physically painful. Sometimes it is just as painful to watch someone overstep their bounds and embarrass themselves by not biting their tongue. I've seen it, I've done it, it's not pretty. It is like watching a car crash in slow motion. Read the room, don't try to be better than everyone else in the room.

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