Ibraheem ibn Ad-ham, may Allaah have mercy upon him, used to remain silent for long periods of time, if he spoke I would be pleased. One day he remained silent for a lengthy period of time, I said: ‘If you would speak.’ He said:
There are four types of speech:
1.) The type of speech that you anticipate benefit from, but fear its consequences. It is more virtuous to be safe from such speech.
2.) Speech that you do not anticipate any benefit from, nor do you fear its consequences. By leaving such speech, the least that you would benefit is to lighten the burden on your body and tongue.
3.) Speech that you do not anticipate any benefit from, and you are not sure of its consequences. The intelligent person does not burden himself with such speech. [this third type was taken from Tahdheeb al Kamaal by al Haafidh al Mizzee as it was not included in this narration in ‘as Samt’. In another narration this type of speech is described as poison.]
4.) Speech that you anticipate benefit from, and are sure of its consequences, and this is the type of speech that you must propagate.
[Reference: As Samt, Page 67|By: Ibn Abee ad Dunyaa|Courtesy of: Subul as-Salaam]