As Tina Fey has said, "Bitches be crazy." Sometimes we let our emotions get the best of us, and it can have lasting consequences. Don't let a little snark or a satisfying, subtle dig in the moment have lasting effects on your relationships or career. Here are five times it can pay to bite your tongue.
When it involves family
There is no escaping your blood relatives, or those you acquire by marriage or other means for that matter. Some people can have blowout fights with their sister and then go for manis the next day, no big deal. (The Kardashians come to mind.) But you know, if your Mom can't handle what you're about to say, keep it inside or vent to a friend. There are times truths need to be aired — an intervention or situation where someone's safety is at stake. If it's just that you don't feel like having Christmas dinner at your Aunt's house, maybe you should take a step back. Speaking of which, the family clause comes with its own situational addendum — when a group holiday or vacation is coming up, you might want to tread especially carefully.
If it could affect your finances
If keeping discourse civil could mean the bank might waive a fee or the insurance company might look more favorably on your claim, do try to rise above your anger. Anything involving a customer service representative can be stressful and emotionally charged. Say you're trying to get medical coverage for a dependent's upcoming surgery that is a gray area in your policy, you're going to want to be polite even if the policy is unfair, they have all your information wrong, and they're acting like your situation is no big deal. When you want something from someone, even something you are entitled to, you're not in the best position to air your grievances.
This can also go along with the family rule. If your parents are helping out with your rent, it might not be the time to show off your fresh ink to your Orthodox Jewish mother.
If you might want to work at this company in the future, or even in the same industry, just do not tell off your boss and quit in a huff. There are times to quit in a huff. And if you have solid evidence of sexual harassment or another situation that would easily explain to future employers why you have no reference from this job, then maybe you have an exception on your hands. If not, hold back. Pulling a diva act when you land a better gig is always a bad idea. You never know when you may need these professional contacts in the future. For instance, there were times back in the day when Victoria Beckham had her issues with The Spice Girls, but they were all able to amiably, and I'm sure lucratively, reunite for the closing ceremonies of the Olympics.
You are at the mercy of an authority figure
Rarely will it work out well for you if you blow up at a cop who is accusing you of an offense, even one you did not commit. No matter the injustice, authority figures have just that — authority. When someone else has the upper hand, try your hardest not to offend them. If a TSA agent breaks your favorite bottle of Bond No. 9 and you go all Naomi Campbell on him, you are not going to make your flight. These are the times when it pays to be on your best behavior in the moment and to take detailed and copious notes about all the injustices you suffer. Going calmly through the proper channels once you've calmed down could get that parking ticket reversed.
When you're going through a rough patch
If you've been overworked, you're in ill health, or are emotionally strained, you are probably not at your most rational. There are times in our lives when nothing is going right, and very big things are going wrong. These are times when you deserve a break. And odds are if you have good people in your life, they've been giving it to you, as well as their support and patience. Don't take advantage of that, or use your circumstances as an excuse to mistreat other people. If people or institutions are helping you when you are vulnerable, but they slip up or have an off day when you just can't take it anymore — take it a little more. Show them the same kindness they have shown you. You are going to need your support network right now. You won't be able to call your best friend to give you a ride home from the doctor if you just insulted her and her entire family for a perceived slight.
All in all, I'm going to borrow a phrase from the British and say we should all just "keep calm and carry on" whenever possible. Severing ties and cutting off relationships is a messy business, it's best to avoid the drama whenever possible.