If People Respond Badly to You, ‘THINK’ Before You Speak (or Post Online)

If People Respond Badly to You, ‘THINK’ Before You Speak (or Post Online)
Photo: fizkes, Shutterstock

At one time or another, we all say things we regret. Perhaps you have a tendency to make bad jokes (and can’t read the room). Perhaps you love to air your hot takes on the latest social media controversy (and find yourself a bit confused when the outrage turns back on you). Perhaps you’re just a bit of a loudmouth.

If you find yourself in any of these situations more often than you’d like, considering keeping in mind an acronym that can help you better measure what you say, how you say it, and when. Appropriately enough, it’s THINK.

THINK

If you’re ready to tell me that you don’t need a silly acronym to keep your loose tongue in check, the lesson imparted by THINK should definitely give you pause, as it begs the impulsive speaker to take a step back.

Here’s how it shakes out, with each letter spelling out the kinds of intention that are critical to any good faith interpersonal conversation:

T – TRUE

H – HELPFUL

I – INSPIRING

N – NECESSARY

K – KIND

Basically, the acronym is intended to serve as a stop sign of sorts, causing you to slow down before you launch into whatever topic you might be itching to expound on. Weighing whether your opinion or story contains falsehoods is a good place to start (True), but each subsequent letter is also worth keeping in mind.

It’s always worthwhile to ask yourself whether what you’re about to say is Helpful, and whether it’s conducive to more conversation (Inspiring). Gauging whether your comments are really Necessary is also a useful exercise. (How vital is it that you insert your negative opinion of something your co-workers are discussing with enthusiasm?) Is what you’re saying Kind, especially if you’re levying a critique, or even cracking a joke?

But THINK before you speak

I’m not suggesting you need to run through a five-point acronym before every mundane conversation; that way lies social paralysis. But when it comes to discussions that edge into debate territory, or when you’re interacting with people who generally rub you the wrong way, it’s worthwhile to quickly and silently ask yourself a few questions before you speak. Likewise with social media, where it might behoove you to turn on your phone’s lock screen and ponder whether what you want to say is helpful, true, kind, or necessary.

Moreover, clamping down on your impulsiveness will help you become a better listener. As the public speaking app Orai notes, “It’s nearly impossible to add something of value to a discussion or carry a conversation forward without listening actively,” because “you might end up saying something you don’t mean.”

Whether you’re looking to avoid unintentionally sparking the ire of someone close to you or courting the wrath of people online, then, its useful to THINK before you speak.

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