- Create awkward situations by saying the wrong thing?
- Start arguments by letting slip something you shouldn’t?
- Give your opinion a little too much or a little too vociferously?
Then, boy, have I got three questions for you.
The next time a potentially dangerous thought threatens to tumble from your tongue and through your lips unheeded, stop and ask yourself:
- Does this need to be said?
- Does this need to be said now?
- Does this need to be said by me?
These simple questions act as a quick filter. You can use them for most situations as a preliminary test to see if you should speak…or hold your peace. If the answers to the questions are “no,” then keep your lips locked. If the answer to any one of the questions is “yes,” then proceed with caution.
Of course, the real trick is still to stop and think before you speak. But it’s easier to go through the filtering process when the questions are already tucked in your back pocket. (For some reason, I can remember to ask these questions but can’t remember the old trick of counting from one to ten.)
The first week I used these questions, I’m convinced that I sidestepped several arguments with a loved one, avoided an awkward moment at lunch with a new friend, and refrained from hurting a classmate’s feelings. Not bad for three simple, but hardworking, questions.
Will these questions keep you out of trouble? Probably not. But, in my case, I’m sure I’ve swallowed words that were a better meal for my stomach than general consumption.
Take the questions out for a spin and let me know how it goes.