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Last Updated on August 24, 2020

11 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

11 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

Go ahead and admit it. You have said things before that you wish you hadn’t—and wanted to take back. Right? Sure, we all have.

It’s part of human nature. Sometimes we get so emotional about something that we forget to think before we speak. It’s like something paralyzes our rational and logical brain, and in the process, our emotional brain lets words come out of our mouths that never should have.

However, some people do it more regularly than others. And if you want to learn how to think before you speak, you have come to the right place.

But first, let’s talk about the 11 reasons why you should think before you speak.

Some people may have been taught by their parents to think before words come out of their mouths. But many others have not. If you are in the latter category, then you will want to seriously think about these very important reasons why you should think before you say something you shouldn’t.

1. Your Words Reflect Who You Are

When I was growing up, my mother taught me and my sisters not to use swear words. I thought she just wanted us to be lady-like, but there was an even deeper reason.

Sure, being lady-like is a nice thing. But beyond that, she was teaching us that the words you use determine your character. They affect not only yourself but also how people perceive you and what kind of person they think you are.

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2. Words Have Power

I’m sure that you are aware of the politically correct language movement. Basically, it’s changing words to nicer ones.

For example, back in the 1970s, people used to use the word “retarded” to describe a person who was mentally slower than average. But since then, people have started using it as an insult. So, over the years, we have adopted different words and phrases like “special needs.”

The point is that if you make the words nicer, then they will not hold as much negativity.

3. Words Can Hurt (or Help) People

As I mentioned, words have power, and part of this power can be good or “evil.” What you say to a person can hurt them—emotionally and mentally.

And even though the saying goes “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me,” it is not true—words DO hurt. But they can also help. So, it’s important to make sure that the words you use help people instead of hurting them.

4. Your Emotions Can Make You Say Things You Don’t Mean

I’m sure you’ve been angry at someone and said something that hurt them. And after you calmed down, you might have thought, “gee, I didn’t mean it like that.”

You see, when you are angry, it shuts down the logical part of your brain and then your emotions rule yourself. And then when the emotional part of your brain doesn’t act as a filter for your words, you might say things you don’t mean.

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5. You Might Have Assumed intention on the Other Person’s Part

You might be upset at someone because you thought they had intentions to hurt you. Then, as a result, you might lash out at them because of it.

But not everyone has the intention of hurting you. Sometimes, people say things that are interpreted as the opposite of what they intended. So, make sure you talk with them to see what they actually mean before you assume anything.

6. You Might Be Overreacting

When we think someone said or did something hurtful to us, our emotions tend to go through the roof. Our automatic instinct is to explode.

But that could very well be an overreaction. As I stated above, you should instead make sure that what they said warrants your emotional outburst because many times it doesn’t.

7. Your Relationship With Other People (or Situation) Doesn’t Warrant Your Words

It’s one thing to explode in anger to your sibling, best friend, or spouse, but it’s another thing to do it to your boss or another superior. You need to assess whether you are about to say is appropriate for the kind of relationship you have with a certain person.

By the same token, you also need to think about the situation. If it’s a time, say, when you are at work or a company party, then it’s best to keep your mouth shut and talk later.

8. You Might Be Judging Too Harshly

Too many people judge others before they’ve heard the whole story. It’s easy to jump to conclusions, get angry, and say things that may or may not be true.

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If you automatically start criticizing and judging another person, they are going to get defensive. And when that happens, more negativity ensues, and the conversation (and relationship) can get ugly.

9. Words Can Destroy Relationships

Speaking of relationships, the more negative words that are spoken to another person over time, the more it damages them—and also the relationship between the two of you.

Think about it—would you want to stay with someone who was constantly calling you names and saying mean things? Of course not! Your words could absolutely destroy your relationship.

10. Words Can Affect Other People’s Actions

Let’s say you are angry at your 10-year-old daughter and you call her “fat” without thinking about it. Well, this is something that she may carry with her for the rest of her life, especially if you say it often.

She could easily become anorexic or develop some other problem. She may turn to self-loathing and start cutting herself. Words are long-lasting and affect other people’s actions.

11. You Can Never Take It Back

Once you say something, it is out there forever! You can never take it back. Sure, you can try, but it won’t work.

Taking back what you say is like trying to put air back in a balloon—it doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter how much you try, it won’t change the fact that those words are out there—forever.

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What Should You Do Now?

Now that you know the reasons why you should think before you speak, how can you do that? It’s easier for some people, while others find it nearly impossible.

First, you should wait at least 5 or 10 seconds before you say anything, especially when you feel upset or angry. If you can’t keep your mouth shut, then an alternative is to just leave the room or situation. This way, you will prevent yourself from saying anything that you will regret.

When you pause for those few seconds or leave the room, you need to think about whether you have a good point to make.

Are your comments relevant, appropriate, or helpful? If not, perhaps you shouldn’t say anything.

Before you speak, consider the other person’s feelings. How will it affect them? Believe it or not, it will. And if you do find that said something that you didn’t want to, then you need to apologize and take personal responsibility for your actions and words.

Finally, don’t forget to learn from your mistakes! We’ve all said things that we regret. It happens. But the difference between people who do it all the time and the people who don’t is that the ones who don’t have learned not to do it and now know how to do it better.

Final Thoughts

If you find it difficult to think before you speak, don’t beat yourself up over it. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive for positive change.

Empathy is key—think about how your words affect others. You want to be a positive influence on other people, not a negative one. So, make sure you choose your words wisely—you won’t regret it!

More About Being Mindful With Speaking

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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