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Discretion

  • When perfect frankness comes in at the door love flies out of the window.

  • There are some chagrins of the heart which a friend ought to try to console without betraying a knowledge of their existence, as there are physical maladies which a physician ought to seek to heal without letting the sufferer know that he has discovered their extent.

    • Countess of Blessington,
    • in R.R. Madden, The Literary Life and Correspondence of the Countess of Blessington, vol. 1 ()
  • Repeat nothing — absolutely nothing — that is told you in confidence. There is no such thing as telling just one person.

  • You're not called on to like everything in this world. Nor to speak up about all you don't like.

  • How very sad it is to have a confiding nature, one's hopes and feelings are quite at the mercy of all who come along; and how very desirable to be a stolid individual, whose hopes and aspirations are safe in one's waistcoat pocket, and that a pocket indeed, and one not to be picked!

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • 1852, in Mabel Loomis Todd, ed., Letters of Emily Dickinson, vol. 1 ()
  • In an unfamiliar culture, it is wise to offer no innovations, no suggestions, or lessons.

  • Never say anything on the phone that you wouldn't want your mother to hear at your trial.

  • ... not a hundredth part of the thoughts in my head have ever been or ever will be spoken or written — as long as I keep my senses, at least.

    • Jane Welsh Carlyle,
    • letter to Thomas Carlyle (1858), in James Anthony Froude, ed., Letters and Memorials of Jane Welsh Carlyle, vol. 2 ()
  • Never tell a loved one of an infidelity: you would be badly rewarded for your trouble. Although one dislikes being deceived, one likes even less to be undeceived.

  • There is a great deal of trouble in this world which is not caused by people keeping their mouths shut.

  • One cannot be honest even at the end of one's life, for no one is wholly alone. We are bound to those we love, or to those who love us, and to those who need us to be brave, or content, or even happy enough to allow them not to worry about us. So we must refrain from giving pain, as our last gift to our fellows.

  • If you can't say it to everybody, don't say it to anybody. There are people who will use what you have to say to undermine you or ingratiate themselves with someone else.

    • Janice LaRouche,
    • in Janice LaRouche and Regina Ryan, Janice LaRouche's Strategies for Women at Work ()
  • There are few more frustrating things in life than being told something that you already know but cannot admit to knowing.

  • It is one of my sources of happiness never to desire a knowledge of other people's business.

    • Dolley Madison,
    • 1809, in Allen Culling Clark, Life and Letters of Dolly Madison ()
  • The importance of discretion increases with closeness to the top of a hierarchical organization.

  • Wiggins was about to answer, and seeing he might be divulging privileged information, shut up like a drawer.

  • I have no memory. I always say to my friends, 'Don't tell me anything you don't want repeated. I just can't remember not to.'

  • A closed mouth gathers no feet.

  • Are we to go out with trumpets and tell everything we know, just because it is true? Is there not such a thing as egotistical truthfulness?