What does it mean?
“And what is right speech? Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter: This is called right speech.”
— SN 45.8
Why does it matter?
There’s more to say about Right Speech, but this much will get you a long way! Right speech is of course part of the Eightfold Path, so it is one of the most important practices of the Buddhist path. For me, abusive speech was a big one. Now, abusive is a fairly loaded work, but really just just means raising your voice. The metta sutta says to speak straightforwardly and gently. It takes mindfulness to catch yourself just before you let out that little white lie, that raised word to a naughty kid, or that juicy bit of gossip to a co-worker. If you can’t be mindful of your speech, you won’t get far on the cushion.