Not long ago I ran across 3 questions offered as “Speaking Filters.” As I thought about the value of using them it became very clear that they would require that I use the “slow down and think before you talk” discipline as well. And that discipline, on its own merit, is also a great speaking filter.
Here are 3 questions to ask yourself before you speak to someone:
- Does this need to be said?
- Does this need to be said by me?
- Does this need to be said by me … now?
With enough practice, it will only take a few seconds to go through these questions. It is even easier if you are in a group, where speaking time is shared … and it may be more important to use these filters in that setting. Some people speak too quickly. They might be hurt or angry, or they may simply talk too much and the words just come out … with few or no filters.
So think through these Speaking Filters for a minute.
Does this need to be said? Sometimes what is going through my mind needs to stay there … in my mind. Bringing it out, saying it out loud might just add fuel to a fire that is already burning out of control. Besides, I may not be bringing anything new to the conversation. Like the definition of “nagging” I heard as a young man. An elderly and very godly woman put it this way — “nagging is reminding someone of something they have not forgotten.” So — Does this need to be said? Perhaps not.
Does this need to be said by me? Perhaps it does need to said … but by someone else. By a neutral party, someone calmer, someone who will not take a side, someone with nothing to gain or lose. Whoever does the talking, it might be that I should be out of the picture. Me, my baggage and my preconceptions might should be somewhere else.
Does this need to be said by me … now? It could be that another time would work better for everyone involved. Cool down. Clear the mind. Take a deep breath. Count to 10 … or count to several days. However we understand it, now might not be a good time to talk. So wait.
Of course, there may be occasions when the answer to all 3 questions is “Yes — this needs to be said … by me … now.” Navigating these 3 filters might bring me to this conclusion even when what needs to be said will not be comfortable to say or hear. These are the moments in which I will most need both the heart and the words of Jesus.
3 filters when talking …
These questions can help me to speak with confidence or to remain silent with compassionate control. Both can be successful outcomes.