My oldest daughter bought me a shirt that has these words written in bold, black letters on the chest, "Everyone is Entitled to My Opinion." I doubt that she meant it as one of the things that she admires most about her dad. I readily admit that I have an opinion about everything that I consider consequential and it has taken me many years to learn to express those opinions more appropriately.
I know of the old adage, "One never discusses politics or religion in polite company." Politics and religion are my favorite topics and I find discussing them to be mentally stimulating. However, even prattling about mindless trivialities can get you in trouble these days. Discussing the weather can easily slip into the politicized bombshell of "climate change." "How are you?" - can lead to a debate on the importance of God in our lives.
Since discussions of things that are important to us lead us to express our opinions. And, since opinions are as ubiquitous and individual as people, we need to learn how to express our opinions and when to just shut up.
From someone who apparently feels that everyone is entitled to my opinion, I offer the following list, based on extensive experience with my wife and children, and on the job.
Shut Up When You …
1. See a glazed look in the eyes of the person to whom you are speaking
They are no longer listening, no matter how brilliant your comments are.
2. Are doing all of the talking and no one else is participating in the "conversation."
This is when you become a bore and a boor.
3. Know the other person has no regard for what you are saying
Don't waste your time or theirs.
4. Are damaging your relationship by what you are saying
Sometimes you have to say unpleasant things to others, but stop until you can say it in a better way.
5. Keep talking about things that are inconsequential or unimportant to others
For example, when you discuss the latest standings in the NBA with me.
6. Start to use sarcasm
Sarcasm is the language of arrogance and condescension.
7. Are expressing an opinion on something you know little or nothing about.
Roger and his wife Sue have nine children and 21 grandchildren, so far. He has worked in many different jobs and in many different positions including a COO of a health care company, a teacher, the CFO of a feed mill, a CPA and the CEO of a power plant. In 2011, he received a heart transplant. In 2012, he and his wife hiked 60 miles in 6 days and summited Mt. Whitney to celebrate their 60th birthdays and the first anniversary of Roger's heart transplant. Roger currently works as a management consultant.