Right speech can be a bitch.
Not only do you have to not lie 9which is pretty easy) but you also want to avoid talking about other people in a way that places them above or below you. in practice this means basically not talking about anyone when they are not there. Even if you are being nice (because by praising them you are placing them above the listener). its fucking annoying.
Being a shit-talker is a huge part of being a tattooer. In fact if a tattoers main job wasnt farming beards and drawing skulls it would certainly be gossiping like a room full of Kathy Griffins. It seemed so fundamental to being a tattooer that when i stopped doing it (as much. . . ) I found that a lot of my tattoo buddies and i didnt have very much to talk about anymore. When we no longer had the latest on who was on drugs, who quit working for who and who was tracing other artists work it was like a desert of words developed in our relationship. Wierd.
A fair number of customers bring drama and gossip with them as well, the tricky part is extricating yourself from these discussions without coming off holier-than-thou and jerky. Just as Right speech concerns not badmouthing others with your words, it also means not causing others harm when speaking to them directly. If you tell person A that you dont want to talk about person B because its ‘wrong’ you come off as morally superior and cause person A to suffer. So instead its like verbal Judo, gently sliding the conversation around to neutral, non gossipy ground. Believe me, Ive had plenty of customers steer me away from being a shit-talker myself, its just so easy of a trap to fall into.
At the same time there is certainly no reason not to call a spade a spade, as long as you can do it without being a superior asshole about it. I truly feel like there is a compassionate way to tell anyone anything if I could only take the time and care to look for it before i open my gob and garbage falls out.
The whole reason I talk about this now is that i started a post about how Cara and i went to a local shop the other day and how surprised by how trashy and stuck in time it was. A few sentances in i realised that what i was really doing was trying to cover my own insecurity. By describing this other shop in bad terms i would be implying that I my own shop was superior (after all i wouldnt be denigrating a shop if I thought they were better than our shop would I?) So i had to stop.