The knife maybe sharp but as they say, nothing can be sharper than the tongue.
So many sayings have been coined in support of tact and discretion. But at times, we are simply unable to apply these very important traits when speaking or writing. Whether we are in a rush or are undergoing emotional distress, we can maybe pause for a moment, re-think our words, make changes if need be, double check, and then say them out loud at the right time.
As they say, count to ten before speaking up. There is this famous quote: T-H-I-N-K which stands for “Is it True, is it Helpful, is it Inspiring, is it Necessary, and is it Kind”?
These are amazing criterias to live by each time we need to utter or write words. In this day where social media can be more powerful than the sword, it is imperative that we exercise due caution when posting things in public. Not only does our negative demeanor harm others, it actually is a mirror of who we are. So yes, time is valuable and we do need to take a few seconds of this valuable time to ponder on our statement. Our words, once said, cannot be taken back and of course, our actions validate our words.
In this day where social media can be more powerful than the sword, it is imperative that we exercise due caution when posting things in public. Not only does our negative demeanor harm others, it actually is a mirror of who we are.
So when we want to say something, all these five criteria will come into play. They are a given. Now let us try to look at a few examples and then reflect on what impact they create on the recipient of our words. Here is a couple that I made up at the moment:
1. Your friend asks you to go with her to shop for a gown to wear at a red carpet event. She tries on her choices but you personally think that they may not be the best styles for her.
Negative statement: “I don’t like how the fabric is hugging your body too tightly and it is showing your … etc.”
Positive approach: “I really love how the color of that dress brings out the fire in your hair. There is also this other style that I think might suit you. Do you want to try that too?”
Lesson (and I always teach this): If you really need to point out a defect, say something nice first.
2. We’ve seen people say very discouraging things to a person who they think is focusing on an interest that may not be potentially successful for them. Here is something that you probably have heard many times:
Negative statement: “I don’t think painting is a career for you. There is no money in painting and you are just going to fail.”
Positive approach: “I love how your painting brings out so much about you and your imagination. Is this something that you want to keep doing even while you will be working?”
There are countless ways by which we can turn something negative into something positive. While we take the time to make a difference, we do want to keep in mind that they may still not be taken well. This can happen and we do not have full control of how others react to our words. But an important thing to remember is that at our end, we have tried to use tact and discretion.
For some, it may be difficult to start putting these value systems into their daily habits, but it is worth a try. You may one day be surprised they have become an inherent part of your communication and writing skills.
It is never too late to make positive changes in our lives. No one is ever too young or too old to adapt to change. As long as we have the willingness to learn and become better people than we were yesterday, nothing is impossible!
The world is small and we can meet the same people at least twice in a lifetime. We want to be able to meet them without having to apologize because we had to.
Let’s practice tact and discretion as best we can. Let’s start today.