Let’s cut to the chase: you’re obviously here because you’ve made the mistakes of NOT thinking before you speak, and so you’re looking for strategies to prevent that in the future?
Ok, good. So now I don’t have to waste your and my time on why you should want to think before you speak because that is now obvious.
So how do you actually think before you speak?
This is very person dependent since it is so personality and habit driven. So what will work for you might not work for someone else. That said, there are some strategies that can help you slow down and collect your thoughts before speaking out.
Most of the advice on this topic you’ll find online is lame. It’s the typical vanilla and boring nonsense you see often show up in the top results.
I’m not going to go there at all. I’m going to go super practical right now.
Here is my favorite strategy for thinking before you speak.
I’m not even joking.
You could interchange or even add the word interesting. Like this: “hmmm, interesting....”
I add the ... there to show how your tone will imply you are taking a moment to collect your thoughts.
This seems trivial, but I assure you, it’s not.
This is extremely powerful.
Instead, most people jump to the tired and overused filler words like, “Umm” or “well” or just jump right into some not thought out stream of consciousness word vomit.
Hmm with ellipses after, like this: hmm.... is different.
I don’t really know why it is. Try it.
Say Hmm... then maybe consider furrowing your brows a bit. Look concerned. Show your audience that you are considering what they said, which is where the power of this strategy comes from.
Strategy number 2: Let me think about that.
This strategy follows closely from the first. The key is communicating the fact that you are thinking about what your counterpart said. This is why these strategies work at all: they immediately convey respect to the other party by showing them you are taking what they said seriously.
This will surprise many since most people don’t take their time to consider what was said. Most people jump right into a response when replying to most things, which communicates the fact that they are just itching to get their words in.
If you can develop a strategy of taking a moment to think on purpose, even if you don’t really need to, you’ll not only earn more respect as a listener, but you’ll also give your brain the needed pause to avoid jumping into saying something without thinking first.
So let’s recap the two best ways to think before you speak:
- Remember, the goal is to show you are listening and considering what was said.
- You convert this message through your preferred strategy: hmm... interesting — Let me think about that — or some other variation.
There are other strategies for thinking before you speak, so always be on the lookout for improving your patience when conversing. Sometimes just being aware that you tend to jump the gun will help you.
Other strategies for thinking before speaking include:
- Count to 3 in your head before replying
- Tapping your foot twice before replying
- Be creative and come up with your own technique for adding a pause before replying
One of the most important aspects of thinking before you speak is giving yourself time before you reply. Usually, the more time you can keep yourself from replying, the less likely you are to say something rash.
Filler words, simple counting, and making a point to show your audience you are listening are strategies that will help you think before you speak.