A few years ago I learned the best lesson for effective communication. I don’t know who taught me this technique, but I am immensely grateful to them. I learned that before I open my mouth, I have to ask three questions about what I want to say.
- Is it true?
- Is it necessary?
- Is it kind?
If the answer to all three questions is “Yes,” then I can say it. If not, I have to keep my mouth shut until I figure out a better way to phrase my thoughts.
I had a job once where I often had to remind myself that it was inappropriate to tell people that they were morons. Here’s how the questions tended to play out in my head:
- Is it true? Yes!
- Is it necessary? I think so.
- Is it kind? <crickets>
And back to the drawing board I went until I could find a kind way to say what I thought I needed to say. This approach keeps me out of trouble, especially when I have strong opinions. It keeps my mouth shut long enough for my brain to catch up with my emotions and determine the proper way to express my ideas.