SEFER CHOFETZ CHAIM — Laws of Loshon Hora 10:15_16
A successful public speaker knows that proper preparation is the key to delivering a good speech. A lecturer cannot come unprepared to deliver an address and expect his thoughts to be organized and his words eloquent.
The Chofetz Chaim tells us, “Come see, my brother, how carefully one has to weigh each word [before speaking negatively l’toeles] when someone has wronged him, because when he speaks he stands in great danger of transgressing the sin of loshon hora. Clearly, it is regarding this that we can say, ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue’ (Mishlei 18:21). If one will not consider carefully before he speaks exactly how he is going to present the matter, he will surely stumble, God forbid. For at that moment, his anger will get the better of him and it will be impossible to exercise proper caution.”
When someone, without proper forethought, tells others how someone has hurt him or is planning to hurt him, his emotions quickly override his intentions to speak only l’toeles.
Once one has decided exactly what he wants to say, he should carefully examine his presentation in the light of the seven requirements of constructive speech. He should analyze each thought. Does it contain anything inflammatory? Are there any exaggerations? One should consider possible questions which the listener might ask and how to respond. One should be prepared to respond quickly, without stumbling, for once the speaker begins to stumble, it will be hard for him to regain control of the conversation—and that is when loshon hora can begin. Furthermore, if the speaker will not prepare himself well, the listener may elicit information that should not be offered.
If these precautions seem excessive, imagine the precautions a person would take if he were working in a lab where deadly viruses are studied. That is how situations involving potential loshon hora should be treated, for as Shlomo HaMelech declared: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”