Three young people in conversation

This practice is from The Practicing Democracy Project's "Practicing Democracy at Work" guide. While it is framed for the workplace, right speech is important in every aspect of our life!

Many values of American democracy are important in our work—such as equality and justice. Likewise, many virtues of American democracy—such as caring, cooperation, courage, honesty, integrity, respect, and trustworthiness—help create a positive, professional, and productive working environment. Such an environment is only possible when assistants and supervisors alike are treated with dignity and respect. Right speech also is a democratic practice when used in correspondence to those both near and far. In The Difference a Day Makes, author Karen M. Jones suggests the following ways to encourage right speech:

  • Speak up if you hear a slur against a person or group.
  • Say “yes” when someone asks if you are offended by racial, ethnic, or otherwise inappropriate jokes. If you do hear such comments, explain politely and with humor, if possible, that you prefer not to hear them.
  • Leave the room if someone persists in making inappropriate remarks.
  • Be sure to follow both your workplace guidelines and applicable laws for reporting discrimination or harassment.

Another way to remind yourself to practice right speech is to use a gatha, a short saying from the Buddhist tradition. Here is one by Thich Nhat Hanh in Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices:

Words can travel thousands of miles.
May my words create mutual understanding and love.
May they be as beautiful as gems,
as lovely as flowers.

In partnership with our friends at Spirituality & Practice, we are sharing practices to help us all “practice democracy” from the inside out. This practice is from their free, downloadable guide, "Practicing Democracy at Work." Visit Spirituality & Practice's The Practicing Democracy Project for more practices and a wide array of resources.


Spirituality & Practice logo

Spirituality & Practice (S&P) is a multi-faith website devoted to resources for spiritual journeys. While respecting differences among traditions, S&P celebrates what they share in common.