1 A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
There are many wrong ways to be right. Wise people know this and are considerate in their speech, hoping to be effective and not merely correct. They know that the right message, when given with the wrong words, can do more harm than good. They know how to diffuse wrath before it escalates, and are willing to be gentle even with the contentious.
It is difficult to be gentle in the face of anger. Tact is required, with patience and humility. What’s the alternative? A harsh word is far easier to assert, condemnation comes naturally. This is no escape from difficulty, however, as harshness amplifies itself. The path of peace is difficult, but the longer you are on it the easier it becomes. The paths of conflict and avoidance, though they come naturally, make things worse with each step.
“The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” What is the difference between the words of the wise and the foolish? Consideration. The wise person considers how best to use his words, and is considerate of how much talk is enough. The fool’s mouth gushes folly. Without thought of how he is perceived, he eagerly exposes himself for what he is.