Of course what not to say is as important as the things one says. Such a warning is true in most contexts — social; professional; personal; familial; in either private or public settings. We are taught that at an early age, and continue to feel its social and cultural “bite” throughout adulthood, until one has (hopefully) gained some wisdom throughout the years.
Some never learn it — perhaps because they never had to endure the consequences that naturally come about, or simply don’t care or, in the very rare instance of uniqueness, do not need to care either because of wealth, power or prestige that, like the teflon individual, no amount of social crudeness will wipe the sheen away.
“Don’t stare” is an admonition that parents make early on — another form of “what not to say”, except this one in correcting a non-verbal action. “Don’t say things that are hurtful”, or “Don’t divulge private information to people you don’t know”, as well as the one that has to be balanced with concerns about putting too much fear into a child: “Don’t talk to strangers”.
It is, indeed, the “don’ts” in life that define the social graces within acceptable normative behaviors, and as the spoken work (or the written, as the case may be) takes up so much of human interaction, what we learn not to say, how we act and are restrained from acting, often defines the extent of a person’s maturity and learning.
It is often the negative which defines the positive — i.e., what we do not see is rarely noticed, but constrains that which is revealed (the positive) so that the unseemly and rough edges have been worn away, manifesting a smoothness that borders upon beauty. But never underestimate the destructive force of that which is negated; for, if forgotten, it will resurface and damage.
Thus, for Federal and Postal employees who suffer from a medical condition such that the medical condition is beginning to prevent the Federal or Postal worker from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, always remember that — in preparing, formulating and getting ready to file a Federal or Postal Disability Retirement application — it is important to keep in mind those things NOT to say or reveal; for, once you admit freely a legal basis upon which a denial becomes a certainty, it is difficult to retract that which is revealed.
So, in the end, your parents are proven right: What they told you NOT to say is precisely the rule to follow. The problem, however, is that when it comes to dealing with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, you will need to consult with an experienced attorney who specializes in Federal Disability Retirement Law in order to comprehend the full import of what not to say.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire