Living in the close quarters of a community of monks, Bernard is particularly sensitive to how unkindness in speech and attitude can damage relationships and wound souls.
It is not enough, I say, to guard one’s tongue from these and similar kinds of nastiness [public insult and abuse, venomous slander in secret]; even slight offenses must be avoided, if anything may be termed slight that is directed against a brother for the purpose of hurting him, since merely to be angry with one’s brother makes one liable to the judgment of God.
Bernard also counsels us to be careful how we respond when a wrong has been done to us.
So when an offense is committed against you, a thing hard to avoid at times in communities like ours, do not immediately rush, as a worldly person may do, to retaliate dishonorably against your brother; nor, under the guise of administering correction, should you dare to pierce with sharp and searing words one for whom Christ was pleased to be crucified; nor make grunting, resentful noises at him, nor mutter and murmur complaints, nor adopt a sneering air, nor indulge the loud laugh of contempt, nor knit the brow in menacing anger. Let your passion die within, where it was born; a carrier of death, it must be allowed no exit or it will cause destruction, and then you can say with the Prophet; “I was troubled and I spoke not.”