As a follow up to my last ponderings on the importance of a few simple words, it seems to me that the problem is that it is not always easy to choose the right words at the right time. How do you know how what to say when? In pondering that dilemma I dug out of my files a tool to help you make that decision. I have no idea where it came from but I have found it a handy way to filter what you are going to say. In fact it is as simple as remembering to THINK! Ask yourself:
Is it True? If it is only half true or third hand gossip a thoughtful person will choose NOT to say it. Make sure that you verify the facts and can substantiate the claims before you speak out.
Is it Helpful? Consider, am I trying to understand and help the situation or just win the argument at any cost? Do I care about the other people involved in this situation, or am I just selfishly trying to get my own way?
Is it Inspiring? Are these words going to lift up or push down? Is God calling me to make a sacrifice for the benefit of others? Is there a higher calling at work here? What words of hope can I include?
Is it Necessary? Do I really need to say this? Would everyone be better off if I just offered a hug and said nothing? We are always led to believe that more is better but often we only confuse things with unnecessary extras.
Is it Kind? What words can I choose that will share the truth in love? How can I soften the blow and yet still share what needs to be said? What positive encouraging words can I give that will show that I care?
I have to admit that I don’t always practice what I preach and even this week I have been guilty of speaking without thinking, but as my father always said “anybody who has never made a mistake has never made anything!” Don’t allow the failures of the past to stop you communicating, just get in the habit of stopping to THINK first!
Chaplain Ian Whitley