Plenty of times in life will arise when you are asked a question or are provided with the opportunity to speak on a subject. Perhaps you know the answer. You may think you know what to say and you might even be right, but that is not always what matters. There are times when the best answer is none. People don’t always want to know. Just because they ask, doesn’t mean they care. The key in any situation is knowing when it is a good idea to speak, and when it is more beneficial to keep your mouth shut.
Just because you are smart doesn’t mean that others care. It is a harsh reality that can become frustrating sometimes. Especially if you know you are right. There will be times when knowing the right answer and sharing it can be a fast route to unnecessary trouble. This is doubly the case when you are in an organization like the military. It is important in life to be truthful, but that does not always mean that the truth needs to be shared. Sometimes, it is much better for everyone involved, to let the situation be what it is and not attempt to influence what everyone else thinks about it. There are situations where silence and discretion are the best course of action.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I believe in honor and morality. I believe in the truth. I also believe in right versus wrong. The first core value of the United States Air Force is “integrity first,” but there were plenty of times when I, and others around me, spoke up or told the truth about a situation, and things got worse as a result. Don’t get me wrong. I navigate life believing that if you are going to speak up, it should be the right thing to say and possess the maximum amount of truth, based on your understanding of the situation. But keeping your mouth shut is not the same thing as lying.
There are plenty of occasions when a question will be asked, or any kind of inquiry will be made, that an answer or the truth is not actually being sought. How many times have you been in a conversation where there was nothing you could possibly say that would have any positive impact because the other person(s), already had their mind made up or were just asking a question as a mere formality?
It is important to be able to identify and interpret these situations. There is a famous ideology stating “Sometimes, less is more.” This is equally true in most aspects relating to military life. Sometimes, the absolute smartest thing you can possibly say is nothing. Using fewer words does not mean or make you stupid. How could it? It is only when you do speak that people can say for certain that you very likely have no clue what it is you are talking about.