When are the best times to comment?

Experts and your own analytics can reveal great insights about ideal times to post articles, updates, images and videos relative to your content, intended audience and platform. My posing the question of when to comment takes a different approach.

First, to comment infers that the communication expresses a reaction to a situation or another’s actions and/or words. Second, my topic pertains to any means of commenting—online, in person, in private correspondence, in a statement to the press, etc.

The following five best times to comment suggest how to increase the likelihood that the impact you’ll make is optimal:

1. When you are calm

Yes, passion sparks ideas and fuels initiatives, particularly if you’re preaching to the choir (or echoing the same views as the intended audience). However, you’re less likely to convince others who are not quite there if you overwhelm them with emotion and information. Great excitement, anger, fear, nervousness, sadness, elation or any other extreme feeling further compromises a communicator’s ability to have empathy and think rationally about words and outcomes. You’re also more likely to make mistakes, written and spoken, while in a frantic frame of mind.

2. When you are clearheaded

You might feel wide awake at 2:00 a.m. or perfectly lucid after a glass or two of your favorite adult beverage, but words that seem wise in those moments often differ from what you’d choose to say if more clearheaded. Sleep-deprivation, medications, alcohol and other mind-altering influences, including chaotic moments and long, busy days, all affect judgement. Therefore, even if you feel inspired during such times, refrain from sharing until you’ve recovered and reassessed.

3. When you are conversant

You are not alone if the compulsion to jump in with an opinion often strikes. The pressure to gain or maintain a presence by speaking out can be intense, but many make the mistake of commenting without acquiring a solid knowledge of the topic and without fully understanding the original position or purpose. Even those who would pressure you to give an opinion should appreciate your decision to refrain until you’ve assessed the situation and completed your research.

4. When you are contributing

No matter what you know, tossing in your two cents doesn’t equate to enhancing the conversation or heightening your significance. In some instances, you might appear as if you’re or piling on or ganging up; in other cases, you might come across as either insecure or arrogant because you seemingly can’t stand for others to take the floor. A simple nod in agreement might be sufficient and more powerful until you can provide another worthwhile angle or new data.

5. When you are content

A common philosophy today is that you should never be content. If you don’t want, then you won’t strive to succeed. Isn't that right? Well, if all you do is want, then where’s your capacity to share what you can currently offer? The idea of being content does not mean that you should be satisfied with the status quo or happy about a condition that you believe should change or improve; instead, contentment allows you to assess and appreciate what you can give here and now. By adopting that perspective, you are more likely to express yourself rather than wait for some pie-in-the-sky, opportune time that might not arrive if you don’t speak up.

At some future date, we’ll probably have an app for discerning the best times to comment. For now, old-fashioned common sense does seem the most reliable tool!

My best to you,

Sallie W. Boyles, a.k.a. Write Lady

Thoughts or questions? Please contact Sallie Boyles, owner of Write Lady Inc., to exchange ideas about effective communications and gain from professional writing and editing services. Receive monthly tips and insights by subscribing at www.writelady.com.