Have you ever rushed headlong into verbal combat, determined to take no prisoners? I can guarantee that soon after, you did not feel very good about your response. Many people very rarely think before speaking because we have already thought of our responses or we are reacting emotionally to what was said. We allow our need to be heard and our feelings to dictate what we say. This can be solved by really taking our listening skills and moving into the next step of thought process.
Besides controlling our “preemptive thinking”, the thinking process is vital to being a better communicator. Thinking, much like listening, is an active process that first starts with what we have heard. In a single conversation, there are at least 6 messages among two people: What I want to say, what I said, what I think I said, what you want to hear, what you heard, and what you think you heard.
Each time a conversation takes place, we must decide the intent of the conversation taking place and identify any unclear points to avoid insulting others as well as to make certain we got the right message out of our listening. We must then craft our responses in our minds first, restating key words and phrases to put the speaker at ease (because we all want to know we’ve been heard, right?)–THEN decide the best course of action before rushing headlong into a soliloquy. If we follow these general steps for thinking before responding, I guarantee that our interactions with others in the workplace and in our personal lives will improve dramatically. Even if your goal is to discredit or discount someone’s statement, it does not have to be combative.
God bless, and remember–the thought of it all DOES count! By thinking before speaking, you put yourself in control–control of yourself, and ultimately control of your communication.