Be impeccable with your word.
I’ve always struggled with thinking before I talk. I tend to word vomit first, using passion as an excuse, then sort out my words like refrigerator magnets as the person I’m communicating with tries to understand me. Eventually, I’m able to get my message across. But here’s the thing. Once you open your mouth, imprints are being made on the other side. The other person is feeling things and once they feel something, it’s difficult to start over or erase that. Unfortunately, there’s no delete what I said button. Now I try to think about the message I want to deliver before opening my mouth. And I admit, it doesn’t always happen. But here’s what I try to do.
I ask myself a few questions before delivering my message. These questions act as a filter that takes out noise and keeps in the nutrients of the message.
What do I really want to say?
Many of us talk a lot without saying much. Or sometimes we’re afraid to say what we really want to so we talk in circles. Ask yourself what you really want to say. What’s the message, opinion, feeling, or point you want to get across? Many times, what you want to say isn’t what you end up saying. Because we avoid. We’re afraid. We’re not used to giving ourselves permission to expression our truth. Once you know what you want to say, say it from a place of love. This can be tough, especially if your message is a response to being hurt. But if you’re defensive or combative, your message will get lost. People don’t listen to anger. They only feel it. Be honest but gentle.
What is my intention?
This is the why piece. Why do you want to say this? What is the intention of your message? Do you believe you deserve a raise or are you trying to cause conflict to get laid off because you hate what you do? Do you really want him to do the dishes or are you mad about something else? Why are you saying what you are saying? What do you want to accomplish by your message? Maybe you just want to be heard, and if that’s the case, I would start with that so your intention lines up with your words.
What will be the impact of your message?
Many times we don’t think about how our words will impact the others. Yes, we want to practice transparency and express ourselves but we also have to consider how it will affect the other person, especially if you care about him or her. I think so many people just spit. Or they let things stew for a long time and when it comes out, it’s explosive. Then feelings are hurt. They get a reaction back, which causes another reaction and now instead of communicating, we have two people attacking each other. It’s an unhealthy pattern that buries relationships instead of lifting them.
Finally, does everything line up?
Are you saying what you really want to say? Is it coming from your truth but also a place of love? Does it line up with your intentions? And have you thought about how your message could affect the other person?
I know this is a lot to think about which is why healthy communication is difficult. Most of us don’t go through a process. We just shoot from what we feel. Or we go the other way and decide to feel nothing, until it’s overwhelming and we explode.
No matter what your process is, make an agreement with yourself to think before you speak.