Have you ever landed yourself in an awkward situation by speaking something incorrect or rude? It often happens that we end up uttering some words that we soon regret. Words come out of our tongue faster than we intend to. Once out, these can never be taken back and the damage cannot be undone.
The human mind is very complex. We may often think a lot of negative things about a person. Our opinion may not be very good for someone. But such words or thoughts are best kept to ourselves. If we keep speaking whatever comes into our minds, the entire world would be at war today! It is very necessary to think before you speak to not hurt the other person, to maintain cordial relations, to not make enemies, and to maintain your own mental peace.
The repercussions of speaking without thinking can be many. Sometimes, it can be so adverse that you may end up losing a job or a relationship forever. It hardly takes a few seconds to think before you speak. The art of thinking and planning your speech in mind is an acquired skill. It takes some practice to perfect it. But once you do it, you will no longer have to regret your uttered words. In this article, we will discuss effective communication strategies for thinking before speaking.
What Happens When You Speak Before You Think?
The repercussions you may face when you speak without thinking in your personal and professional relationships can be quite grave. You may end up revealing a secret to someone you were not supposed to. You may end up losing your chance of a good job offer by bitching about someone. Or you may hurt someone’s sentiments.
To think before you speak does not always mean that you should sound diplomatic or polite to the other person even if you do not want to. Some things have to be said in certain circumstances.
But there are some instances when you can say a certain sentence in a better way than just uttering it out the way it pops in your head. For example, if your wife asks you whether a certain dress is making her look fat, instead of openly telling her that it does, you can pause for a moment and say that perhaps the other one will look better for the occasion. When you pause and think before you give your opinion, you will prevent a fight and prevent your wife from sulking.
Another example is slightly different but something that happens to us many times. If a friend is calling you to meet her and you find her very boring, instead of telling her exactly how you feel about her, you can pause for a moment and give her a believable excuse without making her feel bad.
It is equally important to think before you speak in professional relationships. For example, if your boss asks you why you left your earlier job, your mind might start thinking of all possible abuses for your ex-boss. But if you utter them aloud, you will not only put your current job at stake, you will also fall low in the eyes of your boss. You need to pause, think, and come up with an excuse that sounds proper.
In such circumstances, it is okay if you do not speak the truth. You can just say that you needed a raise or that you wanted a better scope for growth. In another example, you also need to be careful about speaking to your colleagues.
How much to speak and how much to reveal has to be given thought. You cannot speak anything that just pops into your mind. You may feel that you have better potential than your colleague, but you need to pause, think, and then frame your words in a better way. Speaking your mind in professional relationships can often land you in a soup!
How to Think Before You Speak?
If you have the habit of speaking your mind too soon, then here are some tips that can help you think before you mutter something:
1. Pause and Think
When asked a question or given an opinion about something, it is not necessary that you reply immediately. You can pause for a moment and think about your answer. You may think that it will look awkward when you pause at the other person. But this pause takes just seconds. The other person will not even notice. You can think of the answer that you intend to say and also think about its repercussions.
2. Analyze and Filter
Your answer is inappropriate if it reveals too much or if it may sound rude. You need to pause and think and then analyze and filter. The moment you decide that the answer you intend to give is not right, your mind will work quickly to come up with something else.
3. Pause and Question to Clarify
Often you speak something without thinking or understanding the question asked. When you do not understand the question properly, you end up giving the wrong answers. It is always better to pause and repeat the question asked in your mind to give an appropriate answer. Once you start practicing these tips, you will not take too long to analyze, filter, or think. Your mind will start working faster and the other person will not even know that you are thinking so much before speaking.
4. Pause with Expressions Like ‘A’, ‘em’, ‘well’
If you need to pause to think without making it obvious, you can give expressions like ‘a’, ‘em’, ‘well’ or even pause to drink a glass of water. This gap will give you plenty of time to think.
5. Plan Your Speech
When you pause to think, you can use that time to plan your speech. You can frame two possible answers in your mind to see how they sound.
There are ways to speak every negative sentence in such a way that the other person will not get offended. If your friend makes a request of borrowing money from you and you definitely do not want to give, you can pause. You can ask her to repeat her question as if you did not hear the first time. You can use this time to think about how to refuse politely. Or you can say that you have an unexpected expense this month and will not be able to help. You could say, ‘I wish I could help you, but I too need some extra cash this month to send to my mom’.
When you pause to think, you add phrases like, ‘I wish I could’ or ‘I would love to but’. These phrases prevent you from sounding rude.
6. Speak Only if Your Comment is Necessary or Helpful
An important communication strategy when you want to avoid getting into trouble is to just smile, shrug, or nod. This way, you do not utter anything that can be misunderstood or manipulated. These are also effective methods to end a conversation or telling someone that you are not interested in speaking.
7. Be a Good Listener Too
An important aspect of communicating with someone is to be a good listener too. You may end up speaking something totally irrelevant if you do not listen properly first. To be a good listener, you need to avoid distractions from your phone or TV.
It is important to think before you speak. You need to just take two to three seconds to think. You will be amazed at how effectively your mind can organize your thoughts and plan your speech. This pause will give time to your mind to arrange your words in a fashion that helps you convey your point effectively across. Remember not to say the first thing that comes to your mind. Pause to think if there is a better way to say it. When you pause momentarily, your audience also gets a message that you take a lot of care to speak the right words at the right time.
Often, silence is golden. Consider not answering or communicating at all. Sometimes, when you are not sure of what to say, it is best to hang back and say nothing at all. Not everything needs to be answered. You can take a pass without offending the other person. You have all the right to be selective and strategic when you speak.
Also, always keep in mind where you are. Certain languages like swear words might be alright when you are around friends, but definitely not when you are amongst strangers, children, or in public. You need to know the difference. Where to speak what and when to speak what is very important.
Yet, taking all these precautions, it is quite natural to speak something you should have not said. The best way to counter such errors is to apologize quickly. Be honest about saying something you shouldn’t have said. Say an apology and accept your fault here. This will prevent you from getting into jeopardy!
Did you find this article useful? Do you often end up speaking the wrong thing at the wrong time? What do you think of these solutions? Do let us know your comments.