Think Before You . . . Speak, Text, Email, Tweet

Seems today the old saying “think before you speak” needs updating to include reply all, text, tweet, etc. It’s so easy to fire off words without giving them much forethought. Another old adage, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it” also seems to have gone by the wayside (which I think is an idiom).

We now have the ability to deliver lightning-fast replies and feel a sense of accomplishment when we get those pesky emails and texts out of the way. Do you ever go back and read what you’ve sent? Ever catch a typo (thanks, autocorrect) or realize that your quick words might not have captured what you intended to say or might be confusing. Ever get a reply text that only says, “?” meaning, “I have no idea what you’re talking about”.

With in-person conversations, do you ever feel a need to fill a pause rather than let the silence be? May be that at times, working in a service profession as we do, we feel uncomfortable with the quiet, particularly when giving bad news or when the other person is demonstrating difficult emotions. While it can be awkward, keep in mind that words need to sink in and the more complex the subject or emotionally-charged it is, the more so.

Another angle is when we’re on the receiving end of words that get us all worked up. We may fire back with a witty reply. Or wish later on that we had. An example is a recent post from the mom of a young girl who had a quick comeback to a classmate who called her ugly. She told him, “I don’t come here to look pretty. I come here to learn.” The moms of a young boy at school told her that another child had said to him, “your parents are gay”. The boy, not even knowing what that word meant, said to him, “So”. How do you argue with “so”? It’s the last word.

Tips for thinking before speaking/texting/replying/tweeting, etc.

• Use reply all judiciously. Make sure you want every single person in the To field to get your reply.
• Read your words before you send them off.
• Not everything needs a reply. The etiquette on this is unclear to me but it seems okay to not have to thank someone for their thank you or keep going an exchange that should’ve wrapped up many words ago. Ask yourself if a reply is indicated.
• If you don’t have anything nice to say AND if you don’t really have anything to say (nice or not), then perhaps refrain. Enjoy the silence.
• Practice living with a pause in conversations. Let words sink in.
• If you are sure someone is about to tell you something that will upset you, politely interrupt with, “Do I really need to know this (now)?” It might cause them to think before speaking.
• Some comebacks that are fairly neutral if you feel a need to say something:
o You’re very observant.
o I hadn’t thought of that.
o That’s an interesting question/comment.
o I’ll take that under advisement.

Quote of the week:

“Some people create their own storms and then get upset when it rains.” ~Author Unknown