There is wisdom in knowing when to speak up and when to hold your tongue says Mercy Kufakunesu

Silence is golden and when correctly utilized more is achieved.  An assistant must have an appreciation of silence and must master the art early in his or her career.  It is often said silence conquers everything, though others perceive nothing is taking place.  Knowing when to hold your tongue is a powerful tool.  It is a valuable wisdom and when correctly utilized it is a source of power.

Below are suggestions on when to hold your tongue:

When tempted to fill the silence

Silence can be a bit uncomfortable for some assistants.  For example, when a visitor is waiting to see their executive. They feel awkward and fill the silence in the name of creating a positive impression.  Rushing to fill the gap may make one say things that one later regrets.  By letting the visitor fill the gap, it gives the assistant a chance to get to know more about the visitor and the reason for their visit.

When you want to complain to your executive

Meeting critical priorities and being up to the tasks set by your executive is of paramount importance at work.  At times, the assistant might feel the goals are unrealistic, become overwhelmed by work and may feel compelled to complain.  Complaining at work can make you seem to be a whiner and unproductive.   Instead have a one-on-one meeting, provide feedback and ensure your executive understands that you are focusing on critical tasks, then other tasks can follow later so that it won’t be overwhelming.

When you feel the urge to announce your goals

An assistant may have their own goals they may want to accomplish in line with organizational goals.  Announcing their goals at work doesn’t increase their chances of achieving them.  As an assistant, you may announce your goals, but it makes you count your chicks before they hatch.  Instead, announce your accomplishments as it boosts your personal reputation.

When you are unable to master the art of self-promotion

Self-promotion is a continuous thing and should not be left for end-of-year performance appraisals.  Never leave others to tell your story, they may never tell it, or may not tell it how you want it told.    Self-promotion unveils a lot of opportunities, but an assistant must be able to master the art.  Promote yourself in a natural conversational way, without bragging, but rightly timed to suit specific situations.

When you want to compare your past executive to your current executive

A difference in personality between an executive and an assistant does not mean you may fail to get along. As appealing as your work relationship with your new executive may seem, never compare and say awful things about your previous executive.  It may seem just a passing conversation, but gossip will always come back to you. Executives meet and talk about many things; you don’t want to become a negative subject in their discussion.  Hold your tongue about your former executive`s shortcomings and adjust to the current executive by learning his or her leadership style.

When compelled to tell others what transpired at the meeting

One of the qualities of an assistant is confidentiality.  However, with the advent of technology, information can travel fast to many people with a click of a button.  No matter how uneasy you feel with the information, hold your tongue.  It is not in your best interest to divulge what transpired in the meeting.

In the heat of anger

Having an executive who has a hot temper makes the office the most dreaded place to be.  Conversing with any angry executive is like putting gasoline to fire. In the heat of anger, an assistant remains calm and provides feedback after the fire has gone out.

Knowing when one should keep quiet and why he/she should hold his/her tongue is the beginning of wisdom.

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Mercy Kufakunesu is a secretary for foreign missions at ZAOGA FIFMI Headquarters, Harare, Zimbabwe. She is a graduate of Chinhoyi University of Technology with an honours in Office Administration and Technology. She is currently doing a Masters in ... (Read More)

32 comments on “Knowing when to Hold your Tongue

  1. Kinkela on

    My sister the silence is a best quality for an this case ,for an assistant can learn much if he keeps silence or he knows when talking get feedback from the executive.i.m proud of you ,because you show in this article how to best in society.the confidentiaty is one of the quality to have…

  2. Rumbidzai Kufakunesu on

    Powerful message my sister .May God continue giving you wisdom and knowledge to write mamy more articles and touch various people. As a family we are proud of you . Keep the fire burning

  3. H.C. Mabhena on

    Thank you so much for such an article. You articulated well & very educative. It needs to be taught at conferences for leaders. This is powerful.. Magic words “keep your tongue”. Wisdom!!!!!

  4. Dr Msipah on

    Well thought out. powerful and a lesson to Office Assistants. this is just the beginning of a new journey in your life keep it up. That’s one of my own.

  5. Darrell Thompson on

    I learned that it takes a lot of knowing when to talk and when to listen when it comes to whatever your profession is .you have to learn how to think first and talk later. know when you should be heard and when to be quiet. This was a very good lesson for me.

  6. Carries Juru on

    A wonderful and well articulated presentation.Mercy has proved to be an upcoming academic who is geared to contribute immensely to the world of Knowledge.Keep it up.


  7. student Pst Thompson from Sierra Leone on

    Thank you very much mama mercy for this teachings. i am grateful to God for you. Indeed you are a blessing in the kingdom of God.


    Sure slow to speak but quick to hear, know where to be heard and when to keep quiet. Thank you for your comment.


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