“Never explain, never complain.”
The phrase, originally by the late British Premier and novelist Benjamin Disraeli has stuck with me since I read it a few days ago. Sometimes people will accuse you of something and though it is always a good idea to defend yourself, sometimes it never really is. Sometimes you should let the wind blow over, let the embers die and before long there will be another ‘hot’ story.
This is especially true for ‘online fires’. If strangers come up with accussations, trying to offer explanations only gives them more fire and fuel. Also, have you ever met someone who within 30 minutes has shared their life’s story? Well, this is perfect if you are a writer chasing a story but if it was a friendly conversation, you will most often be left with a sour taste in the mouth.
So yes, speak less and listen more, always a sure win. It is best to be the one asking the questions when making small talk. Share something about you but don’t drone on and on about yourself. A little mystery is good too. It is an attractive quality.
And if you have something to complain about, do it in a way that seems less of complaining and more of offering constructive feedback. Put yourself in the shoes of the person you are ddressing and think through what information you would like to get. One that would improve your life.