Your Words Matter: Think Before You Talk

As a young child, my father had a phrase, I might even say it was a mantra, that he often communicated to my sisters and to me, ‘Think before you talk.” Even as I type it out now, I feel the eye roll of an adolescent child begin to take over. As a young female in a South Asian immigrant family, I interpreted this phrase as ‘be quiet’ or ‘speak when spoken to’ and I did just that. I was an introverted, quiet child who spoke rarely in the school setting. I often kept a long and winding inner narrative alive in my head but rarely shared my thoughts with others. I did not think my words mattered to others. Now as many years have passed, I actually find myself thinking of this phrase with new meaning.

As an adult, a leader, an educator, and a parent I have learned through many small and big moments that this was not the full interpretation of the phrase. It certainly wasn’t the meaning that would benefit me or those around me in many scenarios. ‘Think before you talk’ is so much more than being silent. It means that your words do matter. It means people are listening. It means that you should use your words carefully and intentionally. Think about who is before you and the situation you are in, before speaking. Then, say it with care. 

Here are some tips I have learned to make sure Your Words Matter:

  • Set your intention. Why do I need to say this?
  • Check your relationships in the situation. How do you want to feel? How do you want others to feel?
  • Be direct and clear. As Brené Brown said, ‘Clear is Kind. Unclear is Unkind.’
  • Say it with care and compassion. Even if you have a difficult message, when it is said with care people can hear you and process it better.

The next time you have the opportunity to speak, big or small, remember that your words matter. Speak from your heart and people will feel and know your message is genuine and comes from a place of care. We are listening. What will you say?