Five Reasons to Think Before You Speak 

Here are some of the thoughts I try to run through my head – before words run out my mouth.

1)     Was intentionality involved?

If responding to something someone said or did, ask yourself if there was intentionality involved. Did the other person mean to be unkind?

Before reacting to words or actions I might not employ myself, I will still try to understand motive. I’ll try to ask myself if the other person meant to be mean or if he was simply being ignorant.

If someone is simply being thoughtless, it’s usually not worth the energy required for a clever put-down. If a person is really ignorant, he might not even understand my barb, and not being understood has never made me feel good.

2)    What (exactly) am I reacting to?

Before making a verbal response to something I don’t like, I will ask myself if my issue is with the person, with a comment or action, or with me.

If I just don’t like the person, I will remind myself that there’s probably nothing he could say that I’d agree with, so reacting to any specific comment is not going to help us get along, which is probably all I might hope for in the relationship.

If I am reacting to a comment, I will try thinking about ways to disagree with the comment without making the person look stupid, feel defensive or wrong. This doesn’t mean I will stay silent, but I will definitely spend time composing my words before firing them off.

I will also ask myself if I experienced anything recently that frustrated me. If I am really resentful or angry about getting a parking ticket or something else that happened to me that day, it’s unfair to be flippant to someone who just happens to be in front of me.

3)    Who do I want to be?

Before making any kind of comment in reaction to something, I want to remember that to other people, what I say is who I am.

When I was a younger woman, I felt self-conscious that I didn’t have a traditional job. I wasn’t a teacher or accountant or lawyer. I often felt bad about this and when, in a social setting, I’d be asked, “What do you do?” I’d often announce “I’m a female impersonator.”  I’d do this to be clever and to confuse people. When I’d say this, people would stare at me, often unsure how to respond.  I don’t talk this way anymore, especially with people I don’t know.

When I say “what I say is who I am,” I don’t mean I believe I can be whatever I tell people about myself. I mean that speaking truthfully is more important to me than being clever or disarming.

A person who speaks truthfully and considerately is who I want to be in the world, how I want to be perceived.  My words are at least if not more important to my public image than clean clothes and combed hair.

It’s good to think about the impression you want to make and the person you want to be before making the first pointed quip that comes to mind.

4)    What is my relationship with this other person?

If a relationship is important to you, building up a case to prove you’re right about something should be far less important than letting the other person know he or she is important to you. Not that you have to put yourself down or lie to make someone else feel good, but if your main reason for speaking is to build yourself up, you might re-think your contribution to the conversation.

Do you want to encourage trust? Demonstrate competence? Kindness? Understanding? Cooperation?  What qualities would be important to the relationship?

Even if you want to show off your sense of humor and quick wit, think of who you are with and about how you can do this without going totally negative. Lots of friendships revolve around sharing wicked clever observations, but sometimes going too negative will just make you look lame.

5)  Who are you judging?

The other week, my boyfriend commented to me on how he thought I was acting particularly spacey. I did a quick inventory of moods that probably visited me that day and I didn’t feel spacey applied. I probably could have admitted to being impatient or other less than angel perfect ways but didn’t feel I owned this category. Then I realized he forgot to take his wallet when he left for work in the morning.

He was projecting. I know I do this, too, at times. I think most people have done this; criticizing someone for reminding them of something they don’t like in themselves.

So, before responding to someone in a particularly critical way, I try to ask myself if there is any judgment about myself hidden in what I think I see in the other person.

I don’t think I’m espousing the Sunday School philosophy “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything,” but I recognize that in the heat of a conversation or as a reaction to a person or type of person I don’t especially like, I have wished I could take something I said back.

I have learned to save sarcasm for friends I know well and am grateful when I think before I speak.

Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.

Napoleon Hill










In Memoriam

Seeing her friend Sally wearing a new locket, Meg asks if there is a memento of some sort inside.

“Yes,” says Sally, “a lock of my husband’s hair.”

“But Larry’s still alive.”

“I know, but his hair is gone.”


Relaxing Location

While my parents were making their funeral arrangements, the cemetery salesman pointed out a plot that he thought they would like. “You’ll have a beautiful view of the swan pond,” he assured them.

Dad wasn’t sold: “Unless you’re including a periscope with my casket, I don’t know how I’m going to enjoy it.”


A Dime a Dozen

While visiting a retirement community, my wife and I decided to do some shopping and soon became separated.

“Excuse me,” I said, approaching a clerk. “I’m looking for my wife. She has white hair and is wearing white shoes.”

Gesturing around the store, the clerk responded, “Take your pick.”

Changing With the Times

When I was in high school, I wore Birkenstocks. Or as I call them now, the ’90s version of a purity ring.


Teeth Cleaning

The sight of my mother cleaning her dentures fascinated my young son. He sat riveted as she carefully took them out, brushed and rinsed them, and then popped them back in. “Cool, Grandma!” he said. “Now take off your arm.”



Communist Nudists

At the nudist colony for communists, two men are sitting on the front porch. One turns to the other and says, “I say, have you read Marx?” The other replies, “Yes … I believe it’s these wicker chairs.”

Read more:

Singing in a choir is good for your heart: study

By Staff, Relaxnews

Singing in a choir may have some of the same positive effects as yoga, according to a small new exploratory study that found the regular breathing patterns required can reduce the variability of your heartbeat.

When people sing in a choir their heartbeats synchronize, so that the pulse of choir members tends to increase and decrease in unison, the researchers said.

Not only is reducing the variability of your heartbeat likely good for your health, but singing can enhance the spirit of cooperation in a group because it helps regulate activity in the vagus nerve, which is linked to emotions and communication with others.

“Songs with long phrases achieve the same effect as breathing exercises in yoga,” said lead author Björn Vickhoff of Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg. “In other words, through song we can exercise a certain control over mental states.”

The researchers studied the heart rates of 15 18-year-old choral singers and arranged for them to perform three different choral exercises: monotone humming, singing the Swedish hymn “Härlig är Jorden” (Lovely Is the Earth), as well as the chanting of a slow mantra. The heart rhythm of the choir members was recorded as they performed in each case.

The study was published online July 9 in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.

Previous research from earlier this year finds that singing in a choir helps form social bonds, according to researchers from Nord-Trondelag Health Trust in Norway. A prior UK study reveals that singing can trigger the release of endorphins, which boost your feelings of happiness and pleasure.


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