Have you ever found yourself with the proverbial “foot in your mouth” because of something you said? We all do that sometimes – and often in situations where we then feel foolish or embarrassed. I once heard a great way to filter your thoughts before they come out of your mouth, and to consider what you are going to say before you say it.
Before you speak, ask yourself first, “Is it true?” Meaning, is what you are going to say a truth …. Or is it a rumor, or gossip, or something that you are spreading that doesn’t merit discussion?
Secondly, ask yourself, “Is it kind?” Who will be hurt if you speak your thought out loud? Is it a kindness to speak it, or hurtful?
Last, ask yourself, “Is it necessary?” Do you really need to say it? What would happen if you didn’t? Does what you are planning to say create positive action or unintended consequences?
This simple routine for considering what you are doing to say – BEFORE you say it – will ensure that you are always a positive influence to those around you. Using this simple routine might mean that you stop gossip rather than extending it; that you curb the impulse to share an exaggerated story. In asking yourself if what you are going to say is true, kind, and necessary, you will also be modeling effective speaking behaviors and encouraging others to do the same.
I have a client who struggles with her place within a management team. She tends to think faster than most, and as a result also talk first and is often the first to raise her hand or react to an idea in a meeting. Together, we discussed a new technique that she successfully used when with groups of people. She simply counts to five before she speaks. In that way, she can allow the space around her to slow down, she can consider what she is going to say, and she can apply this test as well – is it kind, is it true, and is it necessary? When she does speak, then, her words serve her well, and she has become known in that management team as someone who is wise, thoughtful, and kind.
Have you considered how you can apply this simple filter to what you are going to say? How might it make a difference in your interactions? Let us hear from you!