Six Reasons Intelligent People Refrain from Talking

Wise Monkey - "Say No Evil"

Image by Anarkangel
Image by Anarkangel | Source

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” - Plato

At first glance, the quote above seems to divide the world into two groups of talkers; but it also suggests that the same talkers can be both wise and foolish based on what and when they speak.

Whether they talk from political, religious or social platforms, or they only participate in conversations with friends and relatives, the following guidelines can help to produce more instances of intelligent talkers who know when to refrain from talking.

Here are six situations when thinking, listening, observing and self-control may be more advantageous than talking.

(1) Silence Is Inappropriate

"For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. . . a time to be quiet and a time to speak." (Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 7).

There are tons of opportunities for people to promote causes and represent the voiceless. There are also many participants in these forums who want to talk about their issues anytime and anywhere because they think that doing so augments their identity. It is foolish to believe that everyone everywhere will be interested in what they have to say.

There are certain occasions when people in the spotlight prefer little or no talk.

  • “Congratulations” suffices for the person who is rejoicing.
  • “Hello, I’m here” is enough during times of grief and loss.
  • “I’m sorry,” is appropriate for one who shares a disappointment.
  • “Thank you,” is the greatest response to an expression of admiration.

The silence which follows these thoughtful phrases may create desire for more conversation later, rather than create disgust at one’s excessive talking.

(2) There's a Time to Listen

"Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish." (Proverbs 18:13)

Talkers who will not stop talking to listen appear self-centered and conceited. Anxious to talk, they jump to conclusions after a few pieces of information, only to be embarrassed when they are cited for providing false reports. Intelligent listeners soon stop listening to them.

Intelligent talkers want to deliver accurate and relevant information which comes from listening, reading, researching and reviewing.

It is especially foolish to offer suggestions and make up answers to questions when “I don’t know” is the most honest response. Admitting lack of knowledge on a particular topic only proves the talkers’ respect for correctness. It renders him or her trustworthy, not foolish.

(3) The Ego Is Inflating

"Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth— a stranger, not your own lips." (Proverbs 27:2)

This quote does not prevent talkers from stating their credentials. However, it begs them not to take off on ego trips.

William Clarkson addresses boasting in his sermon titled Praise of Man:

"Many men are guilty of the unseemliness and the folly of praising themselves - their ingenuity, their shrewdness, their persuasiveness, their generosity, etc. Probably if they knew how . . . very soon they weary their audience, how often their language becomes positively nauseous, they would abstain."

Dr. J. D Parker in his sermon Self-Boasting strikes a balance:

“There is a sense in which every man ought to be able to praise himself; otherwise the applause of the public will be left by him to be a mockery and a lie.”

These two expositions on the same Scripture text, make it clear that it is wise for talkers to appreciate their achievements, but foolish to boast about them.

(4) Talking Becomes Gossiping

"A gossip goes around telling secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence." (Proverbs 11:13)

Spinning Both Tales and Yarn

Photo by Pieter Bruegel
Photo by Pieter Bruegel | Source

Are confidences kept when a story is shared without revealing names?

Sometimes, when talkers need to illustrate a viewpoint in one of their speeches, they relate the story of someone who confided in them. Pastors, counselors, politicians, neighbors often transgress here. They leave out the names, but give details which point to the subject of the illustration, resulting in the start and spread of gossip—not what they intended but also not an intelligent share.

Then there are talkers who earn titles like bigmouth, chatterbox and windbag because they gossip regularly and without remorse. They may need help to understand the ethics of good conversation, and guidance toward study materials which could provide suitable content for their discussions.

With Facebook and similar media outlets so ready to share, talkers who care about their integrity might choose to tell fewer stories.

(5) It is Tempting to Lie

"Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech." (Proverbs 4:24).

With practice, talkers become good at lying, and it takes little effort for them to fit the lies into their talks in a way that accomplishes their selfish goals:

  • They report facts but leave out the details which do not serve their purpose.
  • They replace a word (with a different shade of meaning) into a flowery-sounding quote.
  • They inflate testimonials to make themselves seem more capable than they really are.
  • They misrepresent the opponents’ records to present themselves as the better candidate.

These foolish talkers assume that listeners are not wise enough to catch the lies; and on this premise, they build a world of falsehood which only hurts them when the deceit crumbles.

Intelligent talkers credit other people with intelligence and respect their right to know the truth. They know that it is wiser not to talk than to talk deception.

(6) Not Certain What to Say

"Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent." Proverbs 17: 28

Humility, wisdom and self-control are among the virtues of talkers who deliberately keep quiet during the buzz session. They may be uncertain of the facts or they may prefer to think through their ideas to lessen their chances of being misunderstood. The rest of the group may consider them wise observers because they say nothing to prove otherwise.

Summary on When To Refrain from Talking

(1) when talking is inappropriate
(2) when it is time to listen
(3) when the ego is inflating
(4) when talking becomes gossiping
(5) when tempted to lie
(6) when uncertain what to say

Proverbial sayings in different languages add meaning to the text:

  • "Talking comes by nature, silence of understanding." - German
  • "Silence is the ornament of the ignorant." – Sanskrit
  • “Speech for a shekel [unit of currency], silence for two; it is like a precious stone.” - Greek

The Biblical Illustrator confirms,“ A cool head with a warm heart is an admirable composition.”

Passion is appropriate when talkers can present with clarity and confidence, but in the event of uncertainty, silence is golden.


Bible Quotes are from the New Living Translation Copyright 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation.

Clarkson, W; The Praise of Man, Copyright 2004 - 2016 by Bible Hub

Parker, J D.D.; Self-Boasting, Copyright 2004 - 2016 by Bible Hub

The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database. Proverbs 17:28, Copyright 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 by BibleSoft, Inc.

© 2016 Dora Isaac Weithers

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Comments 65 comments

Kiss andTales profile image

Kiss andTales 13 months ago

I appreciate your hub, I find it very useful.

First I found some wisdom I can use. Peace happens when all apply .then we can have peace with the toungue. Thank for your hub thumbs up.

RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 13 months ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

In this election season here in the U.S., I really like your injunction about politicians misrepresenting opponents' records (and their own) to make themselves look better. We see candidates who present themselves as Christians trashing their opponents that way all the time. Somehow they seem to forget that a political lie is still a lie.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Kiss and Tales, thanks for your encouraging comment. So gald you found it useful.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Ron, I like that. "A political lie is still is a lie," and candidates who tout their religious affiliation do well to consider that they cannot choose to be spiritual some of the time just when it suits them. Thanks for your comment.

drmiddlebrook 13 months ago

Another good topic, Ms. Dora, handled superbly--as usual. In this age we live in, I think this is a very needed discussion. Another interpretation of the Proverbs 17:28 is the quote "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." I have always been seen by a lot of people who know me well as something of a "introvert," but really I am just someone who likes to listen, and who loves to think, before speaking.

sukhneet profile image

sukhneet 13 months ago from India

Wonderful piece of information. Actually makes you think twice after reading this page

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 13 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

I fall short here. You have imparted much wisdom that I shall take to heart.

A friend 13 months ago

Thank you. This helped with a decision today :)

swalia profile image

swalia 13 months ago

Useful pearls of wisdom in this hub. I loved the quotes you have used.

Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 13 months ago from The Beautiful South

I enjoyed reading this and especially that you used bible verses for reference. The only thing I did not see covered is when people have to always be trying to talk smart to people to put them down or hurt their feelings. Sort of like an enjoyment they get in attacking others verbally. There are certain ones here at HP famous for that and sometimes I'd like to put a big bible verse on them! lol

Great article Dora, as always!

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Doc, being a thinker and an observer serves you well when you have to counsel your clients. You do the right thing. Thanks for sharing.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Sukhneet, thanks for your comment. More thinking, less talking. That's what it's all about.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Eric, I fall short too. It's a learning process and the closer we get to graduation, the more we have to learn.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Friend, you made my day. Thanks for letting me know that my writing helped you. Best to you, concerning that decision.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Swalia. You encourage me.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Jackie, there are so many verses we can add, but for the HP offenders, two come to mind. Thanks for the opportunity to include them:

(1) Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them (Ephesians 4:29).

(2) Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander . . . Instead, be kind to each other . . . (parts of verses 31 and 32)

Kiss andTales profile image

Kiss andTales 13 months ago

Yes very true I learned that I must apply the counsel of the Father before I can appy to another human, if we are not getting the point then we are no better or different then the ones we see error .

and hypocrisy is more evident to see by the audience.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Kiss and Tales, your approach is correct. We cannot give what we do not have, so first we receive from the Father to give to others. Thanks for sharing your very wise insight.

lambservant 13 months ago

Outstanding. Peter was one who spoke when uncertain what to say at the transfiguration. There is so much wisdom here its amazing. Many were good reminders for me. I think talking when you are angry can be a very percarious situation. I have to use the 24, 48, or 72 hour rule on those occasions. I get myself into trouble when i dont follow it. Very valuable article. I am always appreciative of your topics because they are so useful. God bless you Dora.

denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 13 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

This is a very interesting principle! At times, we can appear wiser than our wisdom actually is, and at other times, we certainly can appear to be more foolish than we actually are, depending upon what we say or do not say! I have certainly found this to be true in my own life, especially when in a group of people. We would do well to think before we speak!

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Lori, thanks for your encouragement. The thought of the impetuous Peter reminds us to weigh our thoughts before we speak them. Thank you for sharing.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Denise, you conclusion is a motto to live by. Thanks for your affirmation.

word55 profile image

word55 13 months ago from Chicago

This was an excellent idea for a hub. You're very unorthodox with writing hubs Dora. That puts you in a top-notch league of your own -:). I like that. You should be batting 100. What talker couldn't learn better by reading this hub? Great job! Voted up!

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 13 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

This hub contains great advice, Ms. Dora. I love the Bible quotes as well as your interpretations.

truthfornow profile image

truthfornow 13 months ago from New Orleans, LA

I know a lot of people who need to read this.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Word, you're so kind. Glad that you like the article. Thanks for your sweet comment.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Alicia. I started out doing something else with the Bible quotes, and then this article emerged. Glad you like the end product.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Truth, you make me smile. I can think of some people I know too, but I need some of it as well. Thanks for your feedback.

manatita44 profile image

manatita44 13 months ago from london

An interesting one, or should I say thought-provoking one. We can also write too much, drifting from the subject, to run off on a very personal trip which may be useful, but not always done in the right forum.

A very educational Hub, and this listening problem I run into a lot, and you may find, like me, that the moment you try to tell someone about a problem, they immediately liken it to theirs and begin to talk about it, thus forgetting yours. Have you experienced this side of it?

Well-written and positive Hub with food for thought for many of us.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Manatita, thanks for your input. Of course I've had the kind of experience you describe.

I remember that morning when I went to work so distraught because I had gotten a speeding ticket on the way. As I began to share my fate, an individual took over, telling about the last time he got a ticket, and the time before that, and the time before that. I was crushed then but I laugh at it now.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 13 months ago from USA

Being quiet by nature I find that those around me often just talk for the very purpose of doing so. I don't need to hear laundry lists or thought processes; it disrupts the peace and doesn't truly connect anyone. Good recommendations and quotes here.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks Flourish. Seems like you think more than you talk. Good call!

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 13 months ago from Shelton

MsDora, how interesting this hub reads... for me.. different and I found it entertaining mostly.. even if it wasn't intended to be.. awesome :)

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Frank, folly is what come out of excessive talking which is mostly described here, and that could be entertaining. I appreciate your feedback.

ChitrangadaSharan profile image

ChitrangadaSharan 13 months ago from New Delhi, India

I am in complete agreement with this hub. Lot of good advice for everyone. I do believe that we should speak less and we should be good listeners. Sometimes it is better to refrain from talking to avoid further complication.

Thank you for sharing this useful hub!

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Chitrangada, you have a very wise take on this topic. Thanks for sharing.

lifegate profile image

lifegate 13 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

Very wise instruction, Dora. If I'm not mistaken, the verses you used were all given by Solomon. Now for the hard part - following the rules. Thanks for the challenge.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Hi Bill, the Proverbs are always effective on practical advice for life. As for following, we strive for a lifetime; but life would be much worse if we didn't. Let's accept the challenge with trust in God to help us. Thanks for your comment.

rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 13 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Listening is the most difficult part of a conversation and it is here the intelligent talkers score and the fools falter. Great insights.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Rajan, I like the way you put it. Thanks for your contribution.

bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 13 months ago from Central Florida

And then there are those who talk just to hear their own voices.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Shauna, I smile. Thanks for your valuable contribution.

aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 13 months ago from Stillwater, OK

Sometimes it would be more appropriate for some to hold their tongues instead of their egos.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Deb, you speak the truth. Thank you for your comment.

AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 13 months ago from California

I used to have a friend who said that when we were busy talking, we could not learn anything. And she may have been right! This hub was right up mu alley!

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Audrey I believe your friend was right. Thanks for your kind comment.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 13 months ago

MsDora , Look at the wisdom here ! And , the responses above , here is one wise [and beautiful ] lady everyone . I was on two different planes the other day and right behind me on both flights were people who talked constantly . Either they were both nervous or they never shut up , I'm not sure which but they both got the hairy eyeball !.......great advice ,awesome wisdom .

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, ahorseback, for your very kind comment and for sharing your experience in affirmation of these thoughts. I appreciate you.

DDE profile image

DDE 13 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Valuable tips here and you know exactly what you mean here. I learned lots from your hubs. Interesting and useful to everyone.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Devika. Happy when the article is considered interesting and useful.

tsmog profile image

tsmog 13 months ago from Escondido, CA

Thank you MsDora for the enlightening article of wisdom. Each alone speaks to me while together in my mind I see a panel of wise leaders each sharing a bit and a byte. With humor I hear them together saying "Do not speak. Ponder. Now, Live with others . . ."

MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Tim, you're kind and insightful and humorous. Thank you for your input.

sujaya venkatesh profile image

sujaya venkatesh 12 months ago

tongue gets speeder than mind that's the problem

MsDora profile image

MsDora 12 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Sujaya, that's a real problem. Thanks for commenting.

MarleneB profile image

MarleneB 12 months ago from Northern California, USA

The Proverbs make such good reading. I enjoyed all of your verses and explanations on when it is appropriate to talk. I especially like Proverbs 17: 28. Sometimes it is best to say nothing at all.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 12 months ago from The Caribbean Author

"A time to be quiet," says the wise man. Thanks for your very kind comment.

annart profile image

annart 12 months ago from SW England

Superb quotes and superb words of wisdom from you. This is so well written, Dora. You have a knack of finding words which are spot-on.

So many times I've heard people talking unnecessarily, inaccurately or inappropriately! I've also thought about making a hub of it but no longer because you've aired my thoughts exactly.

Your outlook on life and your observations are insightful and wise. Your writing reflects those qualities and more.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 12 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Ann, you are such a kind soul. You have given me great encouragement and I thank you sincerely.

annart profile image

annart 12 months ago from SW England

You're very welcome.

SommerHope profile image

SommerHope 11 months ago from Texas

I am thoroughly enjoying your Hubs! Thank you!

MsDora profile image

MsDora 11 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Sommer, you encourage me. Thanks for your support.

revmjm profile image

revmjm 6 months ago from Richmond, VA

What a wonderful article that says it all. There are some people who need to know the advice you have shared.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 6 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Rev. This feedback coming from you means much to me.

ARTRAVEL profile image

ARTRAVEL 3 months ago from INDIA

Excellent article! Everyone must need to when and how to talk and more important is to know when should not talk.

MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Artravel, you said it precisely. The not talking is the difficult part, but with the practice of listening, we may develop the habit. Thanks for your input.

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