My interpretation of the meaning….
If you “must” say something, think before you speak, consider your words, put yourself in the other person’s shoes and ask yourself-‘how would I want to be told?’ if you are unable to do that, then the old saying applies, “if you do not have anything good or constructive to say, then don't say anything at all.”
I can hear some of you saying, “Easier Said than Done!”
Sure, this is one of the hardest things to put into practice because we live in a world that in many ways condones and validates criticizing, and judging of each other and it is seldom constructive criticism. However that is not an excuse, it does not negate personal accountability for what comes out of one’s mouth. Sure the proliferation of the negatives can sometimes sway us if they are not conscious i.e. mindful of how we internalize negative normalized practices/behavior, how it informs and impacts how we communicate. To be like unconsciously is dangerous because it means we are unaware and being unaware means we are be vulnerable to becoming perpetrators of hurts by producing, reproducing and regurgitating the same toxic behaviors and practices. You feel me?
We are human hence flawed that means we will make mistakes however as a general rule we should try always to be considerate of other people’s feelings. And although there will be times when one have to face or tell some hard truths that may not be the sweetest things to say or convey at least you would have thought things through before belting it out without thought of the person, time, place, delivery or intent.
Does that mean that with all that good intention there would be no fall out for having been the messenger, no not really because the truth is no matter how one attempt to dress up TRUTH, to gently dish it out, or to find neutral settings-the appropriate time, the appropriate place, the use of neutral language or tone the outcome can still produces some hurt feelings and we cannot predict how the person(s) would react or receive what they are being told.
So why bother some of you may ask, because although at times it feels like there is no good way to avoid hurting someone, saying nothing isn’t always the best solution as saying nothing at times can do more harm than good.
The key is to be mindful, empathic and considerate. As Proverbs 16:23 states “The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips,” and Colossians 4:6 reminds us to, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”