When to speak and when to stay silent?

Motto of the day*
Public speaking
Let thy speech be better than silence, or be silent. Dionysius of Halicarnassus

When to stay silent and when to speak up?


The motto of the day is about the question of when it is better to speak up and when to stay silent. How to know which one is the better decision? 

Thoughts about the motto of the day


What comes to my mind when thinking about this motto of the day? It reminds me immediately to the first rule of rhetorics: If you haven’s something relevant to say, shut up! Sometimes, silence is golden. Is there another thought? Yes!


Let me add a few thoughts when I think it is better to stay silent:


  • When you have nothing relevant to say.
  • In case it is better to take some time to solidify your reaction.
  • When something it is better left unsaid.
  • You don’t have a receptive audience.



When is it better to speak up:


  • When you can make a positive difference.
  • You have the power to change something.
  • It is the desired opportunity.
  • When your opinion is requested.
  • When you want to let your feelings known.
  • If your silence could be understood as an approval for something you disagree with.
  • To demonstrate that you are interested.



I select the motto of the day mostly because something about it appeals to me. Something attracts me or irritates me. It feels as if it could contain something and I want to get to the root of it. So I dedicate a motto to each day and let myself be surprised what it has to offer me.

Sometimes the reason for the choice clarifies itself only after a while. That's why the thoughts about the motto of the day are often not articles, but associations. They are thoughts transformed into words. They are spontaneous and I also publish them frequently while I am traveling. They, therefore, tend to appear in fragments. Feel invited to add your associations in the comments. Enrich the thoughts with your perspectives – to complete the picture.




How do you benefit best from the motto of the day?


Ask yourself constructive questions like the following and you will personally benefit from each motto of the day:


  • What triggers the topic in you?
  • Under what circumstances do you agree with the statement and when not?
  • What is the significance of the statement for you?
  • How can the motto of the day enrich your life?
  • In what context could the statement be useful?
  • Where and when do you want to remember it and how?



And what can I do if I disagree with a motto? There is often something personal to learn from quotations with which we disagree. Helpful questions in such a case are:


  • What do you specifically disagree with?
  • Do you think the statement is generally not helpful or only not suitable for you personally?
  • Which aspect is worth taking a closer look at?

Just ask me personally


Let's get into a conversation. Please post any questions that may be interesting for other readers in the comments. If you are interested in coaching or training, for personal questions about that and appointments you can reach me best by e-mail (mail@karstennoack.com), phone +49(0)30 864 213 68, and mobile phone +49(0)1577 704 53 56.

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What do you think about the motto of the day? When do you stay silent and when do you speak up?


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This article is a short excerpt from the more comprehensive course materials my clients receive in a group or individual training or coaching.

Published: December 9, 2019
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: September 23, 2020
Translation: ./.
German version:

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