How often do you wish that you hadn’t texted that thought?
Or blurted that criticism?
Or emailed that comment?
Or tweeted that opinion?
The problem is, the way we communicate today encourages speed and impulsiveness. And when we do things quickly, without thinking them through, there are more opportunities for mistakes, regrets and repercussions.
Instead, practicing sober second thought is good practice.
Don’t act immediately. Take a few minutes, even a few seconds, to give your brain a chance to think through your words. Then ask yourself 3 questions.
- What’s my goal?
Consider what outcome you expect from this communication.
- Is communicating necessary?
Sometimes choosing not to comment or respond is the best course of action. Communicating something critical is generally unhelpful at best and damaging at worst. Simply being silent can often be the wisest choice.
- What positive words and phrases can I use to communicate helpfully?
Screen whatever thought first comes to mind and consider whether there’s a better way to communicate it.
If we say or write something we really shouldn’t have, it’s important to apologize quickly and meaningfully. But remember, making a habit of poor communication and frequent apologies undermines our credibility.
We can’t retract what’s done, and the impact of words, both positive and negative, can last a long time – even forever. So, let’s choose words with sober second thought.