April 07, 2017 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
T.H.I.N.K. Before You Speak
It’s the little things in life that make me happy, and one of those little things, believe it or not, is a memorable acronym. A good acronym contains an inspiring message and does so in a format that is easy to remember. Case in point is the acronym T.H.I.N.K. Originally created as a communication guideline for online social media behavior, the five questions asked within this acronym are, in my opinion, a helpful guide for all forms of communication, in all aspects of our lives.
T is for the question, “Is it True?” The first test for anything we may wish to communicate is whether we know for certain that what we are about to say is true. If we are not 100% certain that something is accurate or true then we shouldn’t be saying it, and therefore we don’t even need to put our communication through the filter of the next four questions.
H is for the question, “Is it Helpful?” This question asks us to reflect on our intention for what we are communicating. Will it move the conversation along in a way that is productive? Just because saying something sarcastic, for instance, might make us feel superior for a moment, it will most likely not be helpful to the relationship.
I is for the question, “Is it Inspiring?” Since communication involves a relationship, this question asks if what we have to say will enhance and build up our relationship with the person with whom we are communicating. “Speak only if it improves upon the silence,” a quote from Mahatma Gandhi comes to mind in this context
N is for the question, “Is it Necessary?” Is it necessary to point out every small mistake someone makes? Is it necessary to “pile on” criticism toward someone when they are already feeling bad? Is it necessary to be sure you get the credit for a good idea? Will what you are about to say enhance the current conversation? If not, don’t say it.
K is for the question, “Is it Kind?” The world can be a very unkind place, filled with words that are intended to bully and hurt others. We all benefit when we look for opportunities to speak and express kindness to each other.
All of this does not mean that we should avoid difficult conversations. It simply means that before we begin a potentially challenging conversation we pause and think about our true intentions, and then work to communicate in ways that are intended to expand and enrich our relationship with the other. It is wise to remember that all of our conversations, big or little, impact our relationships, for better or for worse.
I invite you to make an intentional effort to keep the T.H.I.N.K. acronym in mind as you communicate with others over the next few days. See if it makes a difference, not just in what you say, but also in how you say it. If you find that what you want to say does not pass the filter test of the five questions above, you might want to think twice before you say it, for the sake of your relationships.
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