It’s a difficult practice, especially for the extroverted, but thinking before speaking is the utterance of relational decorum; a vital insurance.
There’s a good acronym for thinking before we speak.
Before we speak, T.H.I.N.K... Is what we’re about to say True? Will it be seen as Helpful? Will it Inspire them, others or the situation? Is it really Necessary to be said? Is the approach to be used, Kind?
Is It True?
Many things we blurt out, when put to the test, are not entirely factual. This is the first test of what we’re about to say, and it should purge a lot of the non-truths we could otherwise say.
If we’re committed to the truth it won’t be a hard thing to begin to screen what we say by asking this rudimentary question. If it’s not true we shouldn’t say it.
Will It Be Seen as Helpful?
Why would we want to say anything that wasn’t helpful? It’s an easy one to answer. Sometimes when we’re hurt we say things without thought in our anger. This is clearly not helpful. Indeed, helpfulness cannot really be the unrestrained goal of the hurt person. Before we open our mouths we’re best served to resolve those hurts first.
The helpful tongue comes from a heart that’s stayed in an unemotional space; that is, the higher mind has control and provides for the heart an ability to love.
The key question is, will they view what we’re about to say as helpful?
Will What You’re About to Say Inspire Them?
Now this is a real test. Not everything we’ll want to say will inspire people. Not everything needs to be. But, the point is, just asking the question invites our higher minds to engage with the challenge.
Can we appeal to the more motivational side of their position? If we want any part in positive influence we’ll want to inspire them somehow.
Doing this requires us to step into their shoes; an indispensable empathy is created.
Is It Really Necessary?
Will they see it as necessary, or will you? Many things we say because we haven’t established the sort of self-control we need in getting the best results. We commit ourselves to saying unnecessary things that won’t build up the other person.
Prudence is the virtue of restraint that baulks at instantaneous temptation. It looks for the trap first before plunging in.
Beyond trying to justify to ourselves the need to say these things, why should we say what we’d want to say if it’s not necessary?
Is the Approach Kind?
This is a good final test. This is not so much sugar-coating the issue as it’s being genuinely caring in the discharge of our verbal armoury.
Kindness is blessing and we can just imagine what it feels like to hear pleasant words—they’re “like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Proverbs 16:24).
We all like to be treated with kindness.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement: to Pastor Anthony Palmieri of