You will find people reacting to
* people in their pasts
* events in their pasts
* problems in their pasts
Sometimes if you point out what they are doing to them, they immediately realize what they are doing (like when my brother said "but Grandmother, I'm Mark ..." and she immediately changed the way she was reacting), but often, even if you know what they are doing and tell them, they don't adjust. "It is 42!" "But, that was the math question from yesterday" is not the right response. Telling them makes the problem worse, it does not solve it.
There are many things that can only be heard by letting there be silence on your part.
Sometimes what we need to do is listen in order to listen. It can be a necessary use of silence. Too often people listen in order to speak when what they need to do is listen in order to listen. One way to catch yourself, is to hear your own questions. Do the questions have a point or are they questions. Is the question a prelude to speaking or is it a prelude to listening?
Sometimes the only way to the present is by listening and sometimes that can only happen if one person can be silent until the other person reacts to the present and not the past.
As an aside, I've been amazed at how often telling people the truth causes them to reject it or causes more harm than good. I remember a dear sister who saw a psychologist. "You are trying to be the child in the relationship instead of one of the adults" he told her. 100% right. She was grossly offended and told everyone and rejected what was the key part of what she needed to make progress. As I listened to her outrage I kept my peace -- telling her the doctor was right would not have helped, it would have only made her problem worse.
The Rotary formula of:
Is it the TRUTH?
Is it FAIR to all concerned?
Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?"
has a great deal of value. Metamessages aside (i.e. when you are asked "do these make me look fat" sometimes the real question is "do you still love me and find me attractive" and the way to answer "yes" is to not say "yes, they make you look fat."), what are we really doing if what we say is not fair, does not build goodwill, and harms instead of helps? I don't think it is communicating a truth that is worth being said.