Have you ever known someone who tends to say everything he thinks? There is no filter between thoughts and speech. It is a flawed type of communication that reasons, “If I think it, I should say it.”
Before you turn your thoughts into sound waves, send them through filters that will snag the detritus and let the worthy thoughts pass through. Filters like these:
- Is what I’m about to say accurate and truthful (or am I assuming, telling a half-truth, misleading, etc.)?
- Is this the right time to speak?
- Is this the right place to speak?
- At any given time in a conversation, is it my turn to speak or should I remain silent?
- Is this the best person(s) to share these thoughts with?
- Will what I say be helpful? Is it necessary?
If you allow these filters to do their job, I suspect you’ll talk less and the world will be a better place.
Thoughts that make it through the filters will then need to be edited. A good editor makes prose clean, clear, and concise. Here are some items to consider:
- Have I already said this? If so, there’s probably no need to repeat it.
- Will what I’m about to say make sense?
- Does my audience have the right context to understand what I’m going to say?
- How can I be most clear and concise?
If you edit your thoughts before you speak them, we’ll more easily understand what you want to say and the risk of miscommunication will be greatly decreased. Before you speak ask yourself if what you’re about to say is worth it.
The gold standard for communication is: well said and worth saying.
[reminder]What are your thoughts about this topic?[/reminder]
What? – Filter and edit your thoughts before speaking.
So what? – Analyze yourself: do you scrutinize your thoughts before you speak?
Now what? – It takes time and self-discipline to incorporate these suggestions into your life, but the sooner you start, the better.
Leaders – Consider your organization’s internal and external communication. Are all communiques filtered and edited? When you use your “leader’s voice” are you careful and thoughtful about what you say?
12 Replies to “Filter and edit your speech”
Hey Don, writing to you is long overdue. I enjoy very much your blog. It is a blessing to me each time I read it, todays is especially so! I make my living through words, though by no means do I consider myself an expert on this topic. The admonition the Lord provides has been a bright, flashing caution light to me so many times, “In the multitude of words, sin is not lacking” and “No man can tame the tongue.” Your thoughts and guidance on this are spot on. If only that “filter” were visible, locked in place, and could be cleaned out as needed! When our first two children were younger (Esther & Ricky) I once gave them tubes of toothpaste and we had a race, seeing who could squeeze all the toothpaste out of the tube the fastest. Once the race was over and the laughing had died down, I offered them a twenty dollar bill if either of them could put ALL of toothpaste back into the tube. I told them that our words were like that: Easy to get out but virtually impossible to take back once they were out. That has been a painful lesson for me through the years that I wanted them to learn early. I pray a whole new generation of believers can learn this lesson while they’re still young. “Life and death are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit.” I know it’s a lot of work each week to codify your thoughts so briefly and list simple but clear steps of action. Don’t let anyone dissuade you! These are very valuable to the Kingdom!
Rick, thank you for writing kind and encouraging words. The illustration using a tube of toothpaste is priceless. I’ll find a good way to use that in the future 🙂 You guys did very well in raising your children. At the church everyone loves Esther.
I’m curious; what profession are you in that requires lots of words?
Kind regards, Don.
Thank you for sharing your life lessons and words of wisdom with me. Your articles are my treasures and often are forwarded to friends and family!
Julie, thanks for speaking kind and encouraging words. I’m so glad my posts are beneficial. Kind regards, Don.
Mediocre people have an answer for everything and are astonished at nothing.
Your judgement is determined by the words you speak. Very excellent topic.
Bill, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I love your line “Mediocre people…” I’ll find a way to use that in a future posts. Kind regards,
You are right on the money Don. I can’t count the number of times I said something dumb and later regretted it. The last time was only a few weeks ago and I was put on the spot to say something among a group of people. It was an open question and I should have passed and asked them to come back to me so I could give it a little thought….but no, my mouth spoke before my brain was put into gear. Thank you for the reminder. Love your blog.
Open mouth; insert foot. I do it at least once a week. Thanks, David, for sharing your thoughts. Don
Yes! Filter AND edit! I am embarrassed to remember when I did neither. After reading this, I see that now I often go through one list of questions (with neither list being quite as thorough as yours) or the other, assuming the answers for whichever I’ve left out. Thanks for the challenge and the tools to meet it!
Doug, thanks for sharing your thoughts. We all struggle with fort-in-mouth-disease. I hope you are doing well. Don
Great post Don …..you actually model this very well.
Thanks, David, for kind and encouraging words. You, too, are careful with your words; a trait I highly respect. Don