Dan Seaborn: 'Think' before you speak
Recently, I came across a poster that said, “Before you speak … THINK!” Using a mnemonic, the author then took the letters of the word “think” and developed questions people should ask themselves before speaking.
Let me explain. The first letter of the word “think” is t. The idea is that you should ask yourself whether what you are about to say is true? If there is any bit of falseness to it, then don’t talk about it.
Next, consider why you even thought about saying it if it isn’t true. Unfortunately, there are people who are just dying to be the first one to pass on information or make an announcement about something that doesn’t even affect them. People who are insecure, for example, like to transmit any tidbit that makes them look better than the person they’re talking about.
But let’s assume what you are about to convey is true. There are still other questions you should ask yourself before relaying the information. The question you should ask yourself from the second letter, h, is whether what you are about to say is helpful. For example, consider an interaction between a husband and wife. Let’s say it’s a true statement that your husband is not a good listener. Is it helpful for you to share that information with your best friend or your neighbor? Maybe you, on the other hand, are very controlling, which drives your husband and kids crazy at times. Is it helpful for your husband to complain about that to his buddies? What if you just found out that a co-worker is having an affair and you know that it’s true, how will it help others to talk about it?
The third letter of the word “think” is i, and the question to consider is if sharing what you know inspires anyone. Using the above example, it could be inspiring to share how your husband doesn’t listen if your friend’s husband doesn’t either. Then she doesn’t feel alone, but more than likely the motivation for sharing is out of frustration not with the intention to inspire. If someone is talking about a co-worker’s affair, I’m guessing it’s more about gossip than inspiration.
The fourth letter is n, and the question to ask is if it’s necessary to repeat what you know. Let’s say your information is true, as well as helpful and inspiring, but is it necessary to reveal what you know? Although a person may be helped and inspired by learning how your husband doesn’t listen, is it necessary for your friend to know in order to help her in her own relationship, or does it end up becoming a gripe session?
The final letter, k, is about whether it’s kind to speak about this topic. I believe in all three circumstances above, it wouldn’t be kind to mention these faults to other people.
So what can you share? Communicate information that is true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind in order to build people up, not tear them down or disrespect them in any way. I think we tend to spend more time talking about everyone else and masking our own weaknesses in the process by pointing out the faults of others.
Write the word “think” down, and then next to each letter, write the appropriate questions we’ve talked about here. Then post it on the wall in your home or office and use the wisdom of thinking to win more at home.
— Dan Seaborn is the founder of the Zeeland, Mich.-based group Winning at Home Inc. Email questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.