I once saw a sign at my mother’s workplace that read, “Be sure your brain is running before you throw your mouth into gear.” You can see where I got the title from. Though it was quite an amusing sign, it really rings true.
Oftentimes we let emotions and pressures make us say things that we later come to regret. In my own life, I’ve come to see that I fare better when I calm myself down before speaking if I am under pressure or strong emotion. It’s certainly improved my own life and my relationships in general.
Most often, when talking about saying things we come to regret, angry conflicts come to mind. However, it’s not only the argument that can trigger regretful words. It can be other pressures, such as trying to make a sale. One may over promise in order to get a sale that appears to be slipping away.
Later on, the customer may find that what he purchased does not live up to the promises made, and may become an ex-customer as a result. Instead, by taking the time to think, then asking the customer what he is looking for instead of making false promises, the sale may be salvaged and you won’t get an unhappy customer. Even if the sale still falls through, the customer won’t leave feeling that he’s been deceived. An honest disagreement is always better than agreement under false pretenses.
It’s not only in business that thinking before speaking is warranted. We all need to think more before speaking if there’s a possibility that the person we’re speaking to may be extra sensitive to the subject we may be bringing up. You don’t go up to a widow at her husband’s funeral and ask about the two dollars her husband owes you, for instance. It doesn’t mean one should always walk on egg shells or hold back from ever saying anything, just do it at the right time and place and in the right manner, if it really needs to be said.
And thinking doesn’t just apply to speaking. By now, many of us have heard about thinking before sending that email or making that tweet. A few years ago, a reporter flying to another country for an assignment made an inappropriate tweet, which got the reporter fired upon landing.
And sometimes, there’s really no need to say anything in some situations. You’d just be adding your two cents where it really isn’t needed, and it can sometimes cause more trouble than it’s worth.
Another quote I once read said, “A closed mouth gathers no feet.”
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