Why Should You THINK Before You Speak

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Maybe you have heard or seen the acronym before, but today I would like to discuss why should you THINK before you speak.  There are many obvious answers to this such as keeping yourself out of trouble or respecting those around you.  Today though, I will share with you some in depth perspectives to help reinforce this concept and its importance.

What is THINK?

before-you-speak-thinkTHINK is an acronym to help you create a more mindful approach to speaking what is on your mind. Following this approach will help you to lead a better life as it is a much kinder and more considerate path to walk.  This in turn will help you improve upon your various different relationships with others throughout your life.

As you can see, the purpose of this is to slow down our reactions to allow ourselves a moment to think about and say the right things.  All too often the first words we speak in reaction to something may not even be aligned with our core values.  Taking that moment to THINK first and speak second can make all the difference in the world.

Another Perspective

One of ancient Greece’s great philosophers had another great perspective on this concept and called it his “Test of Three.”  The story goes as follows:

“One day a man came up to Socrates exclaiming that he had just heard something about one of his students.

Before the man could go on, Socrates demanded that he pass the Test of Three before he could tell him the information.

The first test was one of Truth. Socrates asked the man if what he wanted to tell him was absolutely true.  The man replied that he had only heard about it and was not a witness to it.

The second test was one of Goodness.  He asked the man if what he wanted to tell him was something good.  The man replied that no it wasn’t.

ancient-greece-socrates-test-of-three
Many Ancient Greek Philosophers had great wisdom in their teachings.

At this point the man was a little embarrassed, especially when Socrates stated, “So you want to tell me something bad about my student that you don’t know is true?” The man was now fully embarrassed and didn’t know what to say.

Socrates looked at him and said that there was still a third test and maybe he could pass that.  The third test was one of Usefulness.  He asked the man, “Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be useful to me?

The man once again could not answer that with a positive and stated that no he couldn’t say that.

Socrates then responded, “If what you want to tell me is not True, Good or useful, then why tell it to me at all?”

Gossip-causes-trouble
Gossip and rumors only leads to trouble.

This is basically just another way to think about the things that we say and do much akin to the acronym of THINK.  All too often, we find ourselves spreading various rumors and gossip that we have no idea whether it is true or not.  This can obviously lead to a lot of pain for everyone involved.

Key Values

Probably the biggest key value in this situation is Patience, followed closely by Mindfulness.  First before we discuss these two terms, let’s see how they are defined at Dictionary.com:

Patience Definition

patience-definition

Mindfulness Definition

mindfulness-definition

When it comes to patience and speaking, that is the heart of THINK.  Establishing that moment of patience allows you to collect your thoughts and to also make sure that they are aligned with your values.  Doing this also allows you to be the person that you want to be, as the moment of thought and alignment allows you to present yourself in a much more positive fashion.

I have also found that people I am speaking with tend to appreciate that moment of patience as well.  It shows that you truly are listening to them and thinking about how to respond.  This in turn shows a lot of respect and most people I know always appreciate that.

the-importance-of-mindfulness
Article:  Mindfulness Why it is Important

As for mindfulness, you can see my post dedicated to it here.  However, I will highlight some of the keys here in relation to this topic.

  • Focusing on the Present.
  • Not judging now as it happens.

The core of mindfulness is to help keep you grounded in the present moment and not living in the past or worrying about the future.  Living in the present moment is vastly important in our lives as this is where our reality is.  The Past is gone, the Future is always ahead of us, but right Now is where we are and it is best to live in that moment.

The next thing is here to learn how to hold onto your judgements until you can take the proper amount of time needed to think about the particular situation.  This allows you the time needed to see the bigger picture of the situation, see perspectives of others involved and then you can make a judgement that is much more applicable to what is really going on.

THINK is Supportive of Growth

personal-growth
THINK leads to many different positive aspects of personal growth.

We all incarnate on this world to learn and grow.  By applying THINK to your life and making it a habit, you will see a lot of positive growth in your life.  Friction with other people will be reduced and more friendships will be had.  Also, you will find that people will more often respect and value your opinion!

Another way of looking at this perspective is the old saying that you cannot judge a book by it’s cover.  By following this process, it is a lot like reading the book and then making your judgements on it.  You have read all of the pages and gathered the information pertinent to the situation and can now make an educated decision.

I also wrote recently about how stereotypes can affect our thoughts to the extent of pulling us away from our values.  Again though, by applying THINK as a part of your every day life you will offset the effect that stereotypes have on your thought process.  This again helps to keep you aligned with the life that you want to live and helps you to grow closer to the person you want to be.

An Example from My Life

customer-care-and-common-sense
I used THINK to overcome a difficult challenge with Customer Care.

Just yesterday I was faced with a situation where by using THINK I was able to solve an issue that I had at work for a customer.  Their billing had gotten messed up and the computer system had gone down a path that just didn’t make any common sense.  After some discussion with the client and taking a more in depth look at things I had to call customer care to get it fixed.

 

It wasn’t long into the conversation with customer care that I realized that they were going to stick with what the computer did even though it did not make any sense.  I could feel the tension and anxiety of the moment building and I knew that allowing them to control my actions and speech would not get the end results that my customer and I needed.

I took deep breaths at times to help me retain my focus and before I blurted out words I took a moment to compose my thoughts.  This allowed me to have a rational conversation without getting flagged in any way that would prevent getting the situation resolved.  I was thankful for this as a couple of times I got to the brink losing my cool.

As the situation was elevated to management, I again was able to keep calm and provide our story in a way that made sense and did so respectfully.  This helped keep defenses from being thrown up in my path and allowed me to work with them to find the resolution that was correct for the customer.

When that call was over, almost an hour later, I was ecstatic for many reasons.  First off, I had kept my cool through a challenging situation by practicing the THINK method.  Secondly, I was able to get a proper fix for a customer that made common sense.  The best part though, is when I got a call from the customer later in the day to thank me for everything that I had done for them.

Share Your Thoughts or Story

Please share your thoughts and perspective with us.
Please share your thoughts and perspective with us.

Before I go I would like to invite you to share your thoughts about the subject or if you have a story that could help to show us some more perspective.  The more perspective we have on the subject the more we can learn, so please let us know how you feel!

Before you go though, I would invite you to read some other articles that I have shared here that are closely related to this topic.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you have some fresh new perspective on life and hope to see you stop by again.

James W D
james@spiralrevolutions.com

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12 Replies to “Why Should You THINK Before You Speak”

  1. Awesome post James.

    The story about Socrates is amazing. It made so much sense. I feel like the people today love to spread rumors that they don’t even know is true. I have long wondered why? Is it because they just want something to talk about or are we humans just a species that love gossip?

    I’m definitely going to start to think more before I speak after reading this post. To just take a moment and gather your thoughts first is a great advice, thank you.

    • I have often found that the base reasoning behind gossip and bullying is pretty much the same… it is an effort to make themselves feel better about who they are. Instead of seeking ways to improve their life in a positive way with work and effort, they take the “easy” way out and make someone else feel worse about who they are or spread gossip to make others think less of the target.

  2. Great article James

    I believe at times we are all guilty of speaking before our brain is in gear. Furthermore, when we talk, we are just repeating what we already know, but when we listen, we learn something new. Thanks again

    • Andrew, the art of listening is a whole other topic, but you are very right. It is best to get your brain in gear and be in the right frame of mind. As for repeating what we know, again a very accurate statement. We do tend to repeat a lot of information over and over again, from simple comments to complex stories. I believe this is a part of our natural way of relaxing ourselves by reliving things that brought us joy.

  3. Love this, James! I can’t even begin to express the importance of thinking before you speak. I have one friend, in particular, that has the most difficult time in controlling her tongue. She gets it wagging too much, too often. In the process, she has managed to humiliate 3 of my other friends on 3 separate occasions by opening her mouth before she stops and THINKs about the repercussions of her words. She repeats rumors, with no first hand knowledge of the situation…that’s probably the worst of it. I’m going to subtly share this on my FB page in hopes that she reads it! Thanks, James!

    • Hi Barb! Thanks for stopping by again! I have seen similar stuff in my own life. I use to have a friend that started many a conversations with, “Don’t tell anyone I told you but…” It got to the point where I would excuse myself from the conversation when I heard that as I knew what was coming would not be good. I hope you friend does stop by for a quick read and maybe a little epiphany!

  4. I totally agree and I think the Socrates story is very eye opening. I do think however that thinking too much before you speak can lead to not saying anything at all. I personally was very shy and I feel a lot of it was because of the fact that I though what I was about to say would offend someone somehow. If everything you say is ‘kind’ to everyone you fall into the trap of trying to be nice to everyone and now you’re not even yourself because you don’t want to offend anyone.

    I think you need to strike a good balance between THINK and just not THINKing. You don’t want to THINK too much or it will stifle you but if you don’t THINK at all then you might come off as compassionate.

    • Matt, yes the key to THINK is just a slight pause and analysis of what you want to say versus THINK. This should only be a brief moment or two to reflect on it. However as you incorporate this concept more and more into your life, it will become much easier and quicker for you to do. Balance is always an important thing as well. Too far one way or another generally leads to trouble.

  5. This article on THINK before you speak is very beneficial. Last week I got into a situation with a couple who did not understand how things worked when it comes to waiting your turn. So they decided to yell and scream at me for not approaching them first. There were people that said to me “Oh if that was me I would have have let them have a piece of my mind real quick.”
    But my inner self told me to just stay calm and do your job as normal, so that’s what I did. I thought about the issue and I did not say a word I just let them yell and scream while I continued to do my job. That was just a short version of what had happen. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

    • Dawn, I have certainly seen my fair share of people get upset over my years in the retail world when it comes to waiting in line and who was next. I always paid close attention to what order people arrived at our kiosk when I worked in the mall. If someone got upset thinking that they were next I would always say that I was sorry, but these other people were here before you and immediately move on, not leaving room for discussion of it. However, what you did is also a fair reaction, much better than allowing them to reduce you to their level where they would only beat you with their experience there.

  6. These are some eye-opening concepts. THINK in particular is something I’m gonna try to do. I have a lot of instances where I should have said something different. But that usually resulted in embarrassment, not anger. I’d say awkwardness is worse, actually. I have to work on some thought before talk.

    I also think it’s important not to be too thoughtful. If you think too much about what to say, you end up getting the same result as if didn’t think at all. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

    • Mohammad, you are very right in that you do need to find the right balance as anything done to the extreme usually has some bad side effects. The point here is not to dwell on the matter but rather to take your initial thoughts and make sure they pass the THINK test before being spoken.

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