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"If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all". Really?

(27 Posts)
GruntledOne Sun 01-Nov-15 15:23:12

AIBU to wonder why people say this? Apart from anything else, I suspect MN would disappear overnight if this was the rule. So would history as a subject, and the entire criminal justice system. No-one actually lives by that rule, do they, apart maybe from people in religious orders?

GiraffesAndButterflies Sun 01-Nov-15 15:25:08

Or the correct version, as per Steel Magnolias: "If you haven't got anything nice to say, come and sit next to me." grin

YakTriangle Sun 01-Nov-15 15:25:15

In some circumstances you need that rule. Like if someone gave you a godawful present that they thought you'd like. You smile and say thank you, not throw at it then and tell them to fuck off. You can't really live your entire life it by it though.

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 01-Nov-15 15:30:31

Along with "Before you speak ask yourself if what you are going to say is true, is kind, is necessary, is helpful?" which DD is told every day before school, I would get rid of this. What nonsense.

squoosh Sun 01-Nov-15 15:43:14

I'd be doing a good impression of a Trappist Monk if I was only allowed say nice things.

WorraLiberty Sun 01-Nov-15 15:51:08

I agree it's a silly thing to say.

Sometimes people need to hear the truth, and the truth isn't always nice.

Mind you, there's a difference between being rude and being truthful, although not everyone seems to understand that.

When I hear people say, "My mum/gran always told me if you cant say anything nice, don't say anything at all", I always think in my head 'Yeah well they must have been a right boring fucker' blush grin

RaspberryOverload Sun 01-Nov-15 16:01:10

My mum used to say this, but only when I'd been saying nasty stuff (so not often).

She didn't say it when I was saying stuff which while not nice, was truthful and constructive.

I think she was trying to get me to understand the difference.

Witchend Sun 01-Nov-15 16:06:14

I agree with raspberry. The times I would use it us when the children are,at the low level of bickering where they just pick at each other.

Sort of the time where you've just missed a train by the skin of your teeth and the dc are all upset and one turns to the other and says we'd have caught it if you hadn't had to stop and tie your lace up.
Totally true but adds nothing to the situation except more tears and accusations from all the dc about why it was everyone else's fault except theirs.
Much better not to gave said it in the first place.

IndridCold Sun 01-Nov-15 16:07:00

I think it's meant to apply to your average social interaction involving small talk and chatting. It's not meant to apply to every conceivable situationconfused.

Ilikedmyoldusernamebetter Sun 01-Nov-15 16:07:53

The true/ kind/ necessary thing is meant to be is it any of the above - is it true (for certain) or good (complimentary or helpful) or necessary isn't it? Socrates' 3 sieves ... DD learnt it in Ethics at school.

But yes the "if you haven't got anything nice to say" drivel is just something adults say to get children to be quiet - though sometimes children do need guidance to develop some kind of filter (think about why you are telling me that. Is it just to be mean and get your sibling into trouble or is it because you or she need help, or you are upset and need comfort, or you want me to notice something good she did etc.)

laffymeal Sun 01-Nov-15 16:13:26

For me it's to stop "I just tell it like it is" type twats from being rude and offensive because they confuse frankness with honesty, they need to shut the fuck up if they've nothing pleasant or constructive to say

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 01-Nov-15 16:15:37

The true/ kind/ necessary thing is meant to be is it any of the above - is it true (for certain) or good (complimentary or helpful) or necessary isn't it? Socrates' 3 sieves ... DD learnt it in Ethics at school. Yeah, but what my 4 yo hears when it's over the tannoy EVERY morning at school isn't that.

lostInTheWash Sun 01-Nov-15 16:17:05

I found it a good phase to countered the - you have to take me as you find me/ I speak my mind which one family member always said before an incredibility rude comment directed at me.

They'd say that and I learnt to jump in with well I always think if you can't say anything nice don't say anything meaning shut up I don't want to hear it.

I think it's generally meant as a shut up isn't it? Isn't it like with all due respect which really means your talking our your arse you fuckwit.

lostInTheWash Sun 01-Nov-15 16:18:26

x post with laffymeal - grin nice to know it's not just me.

Groovee Sun 01-Nov-15 16:27:07

I have thought this about an aquaintence, who likes to think she calls a spade a spade as an excuse for being fecking rude and constantly troding on people's feelings with her "bluntness" yet if you do it back and speak the same way she cries!

BackforGood Sun 01-Nov-15 16:27:31

It's context, isn't it, as others have said above

- it's about bickering with siblings
- it's about receiving a present
- it's about noticing someone's new hairdo /beard / glasses / change of weight or height / etc.

Ilikedmyoldusernamebetter Sun 01-Nov-15 16:28:58

We had a non teaching staff member who used it incorrectly when we were at school (back in the mists of time) too MrsTerry - just chanted it out, so it sounded as if we could only tell her things that were all 3 (true, kind and necessary) which leaves almost nothing "allowable" to say - so presumably she just wanted us to leave her in peace grin hmm

DD actually had a lesson and a homework based on the 3 sieves at school when she was 8 or 9 and I do think it has merit as a way of filtering "tale telling" - what you say should be something you absolutely know to be true, and if it isn't it should at least be good/ complimentary/ useful, but failing either of those it should still be said if it is actually necessary to say it (some not nice things that you aren't absolutely certain of still need saying). It should be discussed in class not just trotted out - kids should be encouraged to decide if they agree, and to think about other things that don't fit the categories that are still worth saying etc. 4 is a bit young for that!

lostInTheWash Sun 01-Nov-15 16:33:29

- it's about receiving a present
- it's about noticing someone's new hairdo /beard / glasses / change of weight or height / etc

That's more a self delivered/internal shut up or a shut up a parent would give a child who isn't doing the internal self censorship of potentially hurtful comments.

sunnyallthetimeeverywhere Sun 01-Nov-15 16:37:20

I think it has use too, in that interesting people talk about ideas, not people. Just focus on your own output.

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 01-Nov-15 16:48:52

Ilike that is exactly how it is at DD's school. My rule for 'telling tales' is it's fine to tell if you are concerned/worried/hurt/sad. It's not OK to tell if it's about getting another child in trouble. Also, it's fine to be glad you won, it's not fine to be happy someone else lost.

Having kids is hard. Why did no one warn me?

GruntledOne Sun 01-Nov-15 23:22:40

I can see it may have a use with children, but it's utterly pointless when used with adults. If, as people suggest, it's used to counter the "call a spade a spade"/ "take me as you find me" faction, it never, never works, because it is blatantly such an absurd thing to say. It's particularly pointless when used on social media.

Fatmomma99 Mon 02-Nov-15 00:15:09

The older I get, and the more I am on MN, I can see being nice is a better way to go, actually.

Because being anything else, is just being mean.

I'm not always nice, but I do aspire to be!

Bimblywibble Mon 02-Nov-15 00:34:02

I more or less said it to my 6 year old today. He started the conversation with "Shall I tell you what x's colouring and writing is like?"

I'd quite like him not to go bitching about his friend's handwriting, cheers. So I told him I only wanted to hear if it was kind. Which shut him up. I think that's fair enough.

BondJayneBond Mon 02-Nov-15 00:34:10

Unfortunately there are some people who will persist in making rude, unkind comments that seem to have no purpose other than badmouthing others or making others feel bad. And sometimes these people will try and draw others into joining in with the nastiness and negatively.

That's the kind of person "if you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all" is about. Fair point about how they may ignore it, but it might deter other people from letting themselves get carried along with nasty gossip.

CalmYoBadSelf Mon 02-Nov-15 00:45:07

I'm with fatmomma on this one I think. As I get older I see the value of niceness more so I think this is a good rule (bearing in mind that there are always exceptions to every rule)

Some "not nice" stuff is amusing, worthy of discussion and has a point but nastiness that hurts feelings and causes upset is the kind I think this saying is aimed at

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