Right speech is equivalent to no lying, no slander, no abuse and no gossip.
No lying or abstaining from false speech means always to speak the truth, while being sensitive to the potential impact of the communication. Do not say anything that is hurtful and untrue, helpful and untrue or hurtful and true. If you know something that is helpful and true, say it at the right time, when the other person is agreeable and in a peaceful frame of mind . Then they will be capable of hearing it so they can benefit from it. Say it at the wrong time and they will react, the communication will fail in its purpose. Speak when you have loving-kindness towards the other person and are concerned with their welfare. If you have any dislike, resistance or resentment in your mind, it will shape your speech which then will not be useful. In other words do not be impetuous. Think about what you want to say before speaking. Perhaps the best response to a difficult or awkward situation is to keep a noble silence or avoid particulars and speak about the situation in general terms.
People lie to protect themselves or out of greed or hatred. They lie to aggrandize themselves, exaggerating their importance while diminishing others, making extreme or selective statements which are distorted and partially correct.
The Buddha showed his seven year old son a pitcher with a little water in it and asked him, “What do you see?” The little boy answered, “I see only a little water.” The Buddha responded, “So little as the water in here is the trustworthiness of the person who lies.” Then the Buddha tipped the water out and asked his son what he saw. “I see an empty pitcher.”, he replied. “Empty is the person who lies.” said the Buddha. He then turned the pitcher upside down and asked his son what he saw. “An upside down pitcher.”, responded the boy. “The person who lies turns their life upside down.”, said the Buddha.
Truthfulness is essential to meditation as meditation is involved with discovering the truth for yourself, to bring it alive in your own stream of consciousness. To succeed in this your mind must be in alignment with the truth at every level, mundane or ultimate.
No slander is avoiding speech that intentionally creates division between individuals or groups of individuals. Slander attacks the reputation of another and gives them a bad name by spreading unfavourable, biased or untrue reports. It can be used to gain approval or place oneself in a position of power. Always speak in a way that encourages friendship and be grateful for friendship amongst people as it wards off the destructiveness and pain of enmity. Harmonious speech naturally flows from a well-trained mind as its intentions are harmonious with the truth.
No abusive speech means to be courteous and avoid harsh speech which is painful to hear because it is cruel, offensive, uncompromising, authoritarian or angry.
No gossip is avoiding trivial chatter. Idle talk is speaking about such thing as politics, family, sexuality or one’s opinions in a way that is just talking with nothing to say as a means of entertainment and passing the time. It has no depth and nothing meaningful is communicated. If you have nothing meaningful to say then rather remain silent. You will be respected and people will value your thoughts.