If you’re like me, you get in trouble for opening your mouth a lot. It’s part of being human. But, there are lessons we can learn on how to filter our speech, whether it’s with our family, our friends, co-workers, or with the stranger on the street. The following is one of the most effective lessons on this I’ve ever heard.
Some call it the “three golden arches of communication.” These are three filters we should pass our words through before speaking up about something. As with anything, they don’t always apply, but I bet you’ll find that they could be used more often than not in conversation.
So, here are three questions you should ask:
Is what I’m about to say…
1) TRUE? Many times we take truth for granted, when people really need to hear it. We withhold truth for fear of hurting someone, or being rejected ourselves. But, it’s often not a kindness to withhold truth from someone.
However, truth in isolation can be very abusive. So we must also ask…
2) Is it LOVING? Lots of us are truthful without being kind. For instance, how would you husbands answer your wife when she asks, “Do I look fat in this dress?” We shouldn’t lie, but we must balance truth with love, discretion, and empathy. It requires translating truth into a “language” or vocabulary that is most helpful to the hearer.
Finally, we should ask…
3) Is it PROFITABLE? This is often about timing. For instance, it might be both true & loving to confront a friend about his drug addiction, but if he’s not ready to hear it, it may be worth waiting for the right time. There are times, of course, when a spoken word will show profit down the road. I.e., they may not respond to what you have to say right now, but it may kick in later on. But, we shouldn’t always assume this is the case. We can get impatient when we want to make a point or advise someone. But, why speak if it has no chance of being heard and received?
None of this is rocket science, but I’m guilty of applying only one or none of these in daily conversation, and my communication can be worthless or even worse, hurtful. If my words don’t pass these tests, silence is usually the best choice.
This all falls back on another basic question: “When I speak, am I treating the person in the way I’d want to be treated?” It requires thinking before speaking–another habit we all could stand to apply more in our relationships.
So, probably nothing you haven’t heard before, but I thought it might be a good reminder. I need to be reminded of it daily!