Think before you speak! This age-old adage reminds us that speaking first and thinking second can get us into bother, be it in relationships, or even in our own opinion of ourselves. Indeed, the words we speak don’t just cause a reaction in the here and now. They can also influence how you think and how your future unfolds.
In this post, we will look at the reasons why you should think before you speak and the benefits you can get from taking that bit longer to blurt out what first springs to mind.
Why should you think before you speak?
As already alluded to, there are a number of reasons why we should reason on an answer before we elicit what we are thinking. Here, we outline 3 reasons why thinking before you speak is important:
The Greek saying goes that ‘one word spoken in anger may spoil and entire life’. Similarly, a Senegalese proverb argues that ‘to spend the night in anger is better than to spend it repenting’.
Anyone who has ever sent an angry email in the heat of the moment will know the value of these words. Whilst writing an angry text or email can be therapeutic, it’s always worth sitting on it until our hot head has cooled and we can see more clearly.
Getting angry at someone we love, at a friend, or at a colleague is only likely to lead to regret. If we get angry at loved ones, we feel bad, at friends, we might lose their trust, and at a colleague, we might miss out on future opportunities by losing credibility. By thinking before we speak, we can increase our chances of steering clear of feelings of regret.
Improve your relationships (near and far)
It’s not just when we feel angry that we need to be careful. As our experiences of the world around us feel like life is passing by ever faster, it can be tempting to rush responses to messages, be they at work or to family.
Unfortunately, written text is much less nuanced than speech and a short reply sent with a light-hearted tone in mind could easily be read as a curt, cold or irritable shut down.
An off-and comment blurted out without thinking can be just as damaging to relationships as a misread text. If we don’t take the time and care to listen to what others are really telling us, we can either say the wrong thing or miss what is behind what’s being said. This means it is always important to be careful about how we respond to people, think about what they are saying, and respond with care.
Control your mind and future
What we say affects how we think about ourselves and the world around us. The Stanford University Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and symbolic systems argues this is because our subconscious minds interpret what we say, internally or externally, literally. The constant use of negative words to ourselves or others will see an altered mindset linked to the words, be they bitter, angry, judgemental, or negative.
On the flip side of this, research shows positive thinking can have beneficial impacts on your skills. This makes it all the more important to think before you speak, to prevent feelings of regret, improve your relationships with others, and help you keep your mind positive to open up doors for future opportunities.
Top tips on how to think before you speak
Now you know a few reasons why it is important, it’s a good idea to get to grips with how to ensure you do this. Here, we outline some handy questions to have in your mind when it comes to staying on top of thinking before speaking that make up the THANKS method to think before you speak, which breaks down as follows:
If we turn these words that make up the THANKS acronym into questions we answer before we speak, we have a quick and easy method to answer any question thoughtfully.
Are you going to say something that is true?
If we want people to trust us and value our opinion, we want to be clear about where we have gathered our information from and ensure we know what we say is true before we say it. Take the time to understand your own judgements and misjudgements.
Are you going to say something helpful?
Is what you are saying going to beneficial in some way to the person you are speaking to? A hurtful comment will not make it past this stage – helping to prevent regret.
Are you going to say something that is affirming for the person you are speaking to?
Will your words be relatable to the other person? Will they help them to empathize? Will they be inspiring for them? If you are not going to get some buy-in from the person with what you say, it’s worth giving it some more thought.
Are you going to say something necessary?
Everyone’s been trapped in a conversation they have no interest in or listening to office chat that is meaningless and off-putting. By confirming that what you plan to say is going to be useful in some way, you can prevent being the one accidentally doing this.
Are you going to say something kind?
Negative comments, be they about yourself or others, foster a negative mindset. ‘If you haven’t got something nice to say, don’t say it’, just like your parents always told you.
Are you going to say something that is sincere?
Finally, make sure you mean what you say. It’s easy to tell if someone is being fake so a final sincerity check will help you make sure you mean what you say.
Thinking before you speak can ensure you steer clear of regret, improve your relationships, and help you control your mind in a way that fosters a beneficial future. Try using the THANKS method to help you think before you speak and you’ll soon reap the rewards of thoughtful speaking.
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