The definition of edify includes "to build up, to construct, to strengthen a person" as well as "to inform or enlighten intellectually or spiritually." (from dictionary.reference.com) When I consider if something is edifying or not, I ask myself if any good can come from it.
I suppose you wonder why such a nice word can be annoying. Well, sometimes I just want to say stuff, whatever I'm thinking. It may be something that would classify as gossip or it may be something just a little bit mean. Why do I want to say things like that? I don't know, but sometimes I just do. I'm not proud of it but there it is. It may be something like, "Hey, have you gained weight?" or "Did you hear that so-and-so cheated on his wife?" It is even possible to SOUND sweet when you say it.
Usually the word "edify" comes to mind when I take time to think before I speak. I'm guessing the Holy Spirit is responsible for that. I'll have these little brakes screeching in my head and I find myself thinking, against my will, "Is this edifying?" Rats! I am usually, but not always, able to stop myself from blabbering out the non-edifying thoughts.
On the flip side, sometimes I find myself thinking edifying thoughts about someone but don't make the effort to share those thoughts with them. I'm trying to notice when I DO have an edifying thought so that I may pass it on. Even that can be difficult. Maybe they will think I am a weirdo. What if they think I am trying to butter them up or think I am being phoney?
I have to say, though, I've yet to get a bad reaction when I pass on an edifying thought to someone. It might be one-on-one or it might be saying something edifying in front of a group, but it needs to be said. This world can be dark and scarey, but we are called to be bright lights of hope, letting Jesus shine from the inside out. We are to encourage and build-up others.
This is a link to a post on a blog I enjoy.
Janine elegantly writes on this subject. You could say it is an edifying post.