Three Questions To Ask Yourself Before Speaking

May 28, 2009

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! 🙂


About John Michalak


An author, speaker, musician, and minister, John Michalak has spent more than 25 years equipping others in the areas of life-change and personal relationship. John’s inspirational new book, 365 Devotions To Embrace What Matters Most is now available from Zondervan publishing.

Need More Inspiration?

Click HERE to get more inspirational articles sent directly to you as well as updates from John on his writing and other items of interest.

  • Katherine
    May 28, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Good post John. Great reminder!

  • Barb
    July 29, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Nice article. I have several friends who stopped talking to me because of things I said… then came back and apologized, thanked me, or both. In both cases I told the truth and they wouldn't hear it. In one, I didn't realize they would be offended. My ex-husband was a victim of the Unibomber. I told some friends that he'd use it to get famous and get his novels published. They were angry, and claimed I was, and didn't talk to me for six months… until he got his second (awful) novel published. Then they apologized.

    The second one I knew the person would be angry, but I thought it was important. Her mother died of cancer at a young age (the daughter was about 30 at the time) and she was declaring that since her father loved her mother so much, he would be alone and never remarry. I asked her to describe how much he loved her, which she gladly did. Convinced it was true, I felt the need to warn her that truly happily married people who get widowed usually remarry quickly, because they have such good associations with marriage. She was furious at me, and threw me out of her apartment. three months later I picked up the phone an she was sobbing… her father was engaged to an old friend of both her parents. "I could never have dealt with this if you hadn't told me that then," she said, "if you had waited until now, I wouldn't have believed you. Saying that was one of the most generous things anyone ever did for me."

    That didn't stop her from trying to get revenge on me later, though. I think she blamed me for her father remarrying, even though I never met her dad and only met her stepmother many years later.

    People are funny.

  • Jessica Duncan
    July 29, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    I love this, so many don’t take truthfulness and love/caring into consideration before they speak.

  • Lisa Reid
    July 29, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    We all need to stop and think before speaking.. some More than others! Ha! Great reminder!

  • Staci Mattwaoshshe
    August 2, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    I think we have all spoke before thinking, sometimes its a good thing & other times not so much. This article really gives me something to think about.

Leave a Reply