In A Better You

Think before you Speak

Think before you Speak

There are times when we let our emotions take over and in some cases we speak before we think. When this happens, things are often said that may offend or hurt another’s feelings. Whether or not we intentionally mean to say things that hurt, sometimes what we say can be taken the wrong way by others who hear what is being said, regardless of our true intentions. That is why it is important to always think before you speak.


The topic of verbally offending and upsetting people has been a topic many public speakers base many of their speeches from. Because so many activists have spoken out over equality, bullying and treating others right, there are many think before you speak quotes that remind us the importance of watching our words.

Here are some quotes about thinking before you speak from Jonathan Lockwood Huie’s Dream This Day website:

  • “Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” ~Napoleon Hill
  • “Always speak the truth, think before you speak, and write it down afterwards.” ~Lewis Carroll
  • “It is only the young and callow and ignorant that admire rashness. Think before you speak. Know your subject.” ~Cass Gilbert
  • “You have to really think about things before you do them.” ~Mark Roberts
  • “I always think 12 times before saying anything.” Brenda Blethyn
  • “I always try to think before I walk.” ~Margaret Chase Smith

Two other famous quotes related to this topic include:

  • “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” ~Abraham Lincoln
  • “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” ~Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)

Why you should think before you speak

It does not matter if you are at work, socializing with friends, at school or having a conversation with people you just met. Sometimes what we think and what society deems appropriate are two different things. What is acceptable in your mind may not be acceptable to others. That is one reason why you always need to watch your words closely. Because those who get offended might not even be a part of the conversation. It could be someone in the same restaurant, store or even someone who is walking by you on the street. You never know who your words may hurt.

There are many reasons why you should think before you speak. Not carefully thinking about what you are saying could not only make you appear uneducated, but also may end up being the reason you are labeled as being prejudiced. Comments such as “that’s gay” or “he is so gay” could be considered offensive to those listening to you speak.

Not thinking before you speak could end friendships, break up marriages and in some extreme cases, it can lead to violence if someone feels threatened or angered enough to harm you over what was said.

Words hurt

According to the Boy Scouts of America, words really do have a more powerful effect on those around you than any physical actions may. Over time, negative comments and phrases can cause emotional harm, especially when speaking with children. Over time, a child can feel degraded, left out or suffer from psychological distress if he or she is continually put down and told that they are “gay,” “a dummy” or similar negative comments.

In fact, continually putting someone down verbally can be considered a form of abuse. Even if there is no signs of physical abuse, emotional abuse is just as dangerous to the victim and should be reported immediately.

How to think before you speak

The most important part of thinking before you speak is to take a deep breath and determine if what you are about to say is relevant to the conversation, appropriate for the conversation and if feelings may be hurt because of what you say. In most cases you should always think twice before you speak, by waiting five to ten seconds, which will help ensure what you say does not offend or upset others within earshot of your words.

Before entering a conversation, think about who will be a part of it. Know what words, phrases or actions could be deemed offensive by some participants. Keep focused on the conversation and if you feel the urge to say something that could be taken as being offensive tell yourself immediately “Don’t say that!”

Before speaking, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it true?
  • Is it helpful?
  • Is it inspiring?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Is it kind?

Hopefully these questions will help you watch your words and keep you in line with the true meaning of the conversation.

After you say it

Though it is never a good thing to speak without thinking, there are things you should do when your emotions get the best of you. If you realize that you should not have said something it is important that you apologize immediately. Then remember what you said and why. This will help prevent you from saying it in the future.

Tips for thinking before you speak

Speaking without carefully considering your words can become a bad habit. Once you believe that what you say is not offensive, it is easier for those words to flow from your mouth. What you say could create a positive or negative reaction among those around you. Which means you should practice using positive language and phrases to create a more positive atmosphere where you work, at your school and in your community.

Here are some tips from CHVBV Registered Psychologists to help you think twice before speaking:

  • Take a deep breath before adding to a conversation
  • Practice giving compliments to everyone you interact with
  • Always be positive
  • Never speak out in anger
  • Do not talk too much
  • Avoid confrontational and destructive subjects
  • Never gossip

To help others focus on maintaining a positive environment, it might be a good idea to start a think before you speak campaign at your school, in your community or at your place of work. This will help teach others the importance of selecting their words carefully and how what they say can impact another’s life.

Why “that’s so gay” can be offensive

According to a report by Miami University, the term “that’s so gay” is a term that is loosely used around campus. It is a term that is used by students, staff and faculty, as well as those in the Miami community. It is a phrase we have all heard and in some cases have used it ourselves. For the most part, it is not said in manner to intentionally offend someone or hurt his or her feelings.

This phrase is something that many use to express how something is odd or with a negative meaning behind it. It is something that many of us have heard and used since the third grade. However, in today’s society, being gay is not an odd or a negative thing. Which is why this phrase can be offensive. Some even consider this a way of saying “I hate gay people,” when in fact the person who said it never meant it in that way what-so-ever.

This is where thinking before you speak is very important. Considering replacing the word gay with “odd” or “strange.” Or find another phrase to use entirely.

The last thing you want in this life is to make enemies. However, by not thinking before you speak, could put you on someone’s public enemy list. Remember the old saying we were taught as kids? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” It is true that words will never physically harm someone, but in many cases, words speak louder than actions. Over time, words have a more powerful effect on those than any punch, jab or stone being thrown can.

So the next time you find yourself wanting to say something, take a deep breath and ask yourself “Should I really say that?” Then if it is relevant to the conversation, go ahead and give your two cents worth. If not, it might be best to keep your mouth shut.

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