I wonder how much better life would be if we all practiced the art of thinking before we speak. I can’t help but think that our relationships would be so much healthier. Have you ever heard the saying, “I wish I have a penny for every time I…..(you fill in the blank)?” Well, I wish I had a penny for every time I said something without thinking about the impact of it first. My mouth engages before my brain thinks it through and the next thing I know, I have a conflict on my hands or have said something that I can never take back.
It just takes a few seconds to slow down and process the comment before speaking. I’m not sure why we think we have to respond so quickly when something happens or someone asks us something. We seem to be have the most difficult time with this with the people we love. In other interactions, we take the time to plan what we will say and how we will say it. For example, if our boss interacted with us in a way that greatly offended us, we wouldn’t let our mouth get the best of us (if we did, we probably weren’t at the job very long). In fact, we even might take the time to think about how we would come back later and discuss the incident with our boss. We might practice what we would say, how we would say it and think through how it would be received. However, in our most personal, intimate relationships we frequently just say whatever, whenever and don’t think about the impact of our words. Isn’t that backwards? Shouldn’t our most precious relationships get the best of us not the worst?
Now, don’t tell me that you just react and can’t control it because I know better. Actually, I have used that line myself and it really isn’t true. You can choose your reaction any time you want to. Think about how you would respond if you and your partner were fighting in the living room and someone you greatly admired pulled into your driveway and came to your door. You wouldn’t open the door to welcome them in the same manner you were arguing with your spouse. You would instantly “choose” to be polite and friendly. If we can make a decision to quickly change our response in this situation, we can make a decision to treat our intimate relationships in this respectful way.
Think before you speak. It’s not a new concept but it may be a forgotten one. Here’s my challenge to you today. Before you respond in your conversations, take just a few seconds to think about what you will say. See if you can slow the process down a bit and be deliberate in your communication. Do this in both the positive interactions and the negative ones and see if you can think before you speak!