T.H.I.N.K. Before You Speak

When was the last time you said something you regretted? Has it been a while? Or can you count the number of days (hours) on one hand? And how about that email comment you wish you could unsend? Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. You’ve probably heard that childhood saying. It’s a lie. Disagree? Just ask the person on the receiving end of your most recent regrettable remark.


Perhaps you were angry and reacted with the first thing that popped into your head. Let’s face it, there’s nothing like delivering a zinger when you’re really ticked off, right? However, unless you’re an antisocial dork or a reality TV show star, you usually wind up wishing you had bitten your tongue.

So if reacting is not the best course of action, what is? Responding. Okay, now we’re really playing with semantics, aren’t we? Not really. I think there is an important distinction between a response and a reaction. It’s the difference between an explanation and an explosion.

A response is a reply offered after some thoughtful consideration. A reaction is driven by emotion. A response is not a thuggish riposte; it is a thoughtful reply. A reaction requires little reflection; it is a rocket aimed at the heart, not the head.

A response requires responsible thought. Even momentary deliberation can add value and significance to what you say. Psalm 49:3 says, “My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.” Let’s boil it down to a simple axiom: Think before you speak. Even better, T.H.I.N.K. before you speak. Here’s what I mean. Use this mental checklist to evaluate what you are about to say before you say it.

T = Is it true?

H = Is it helpful?

I    = Is it inspiring?

N = Is it necessary?

K = Is it kind?

I’d love to take credit for this useful acronym, but I first saw it on a poster. This is a gem of wisdom to be studied from many directions. We’ll explore each facet and look for ways to enrich our live in future posts, the CFBC Briefcase newsletter and posts on social media.

For now, let the simple wisdom of this advice sink in. If what you are about to say doesn’t meet at least one of the T.H.I.N.K. criteria, take this advice from Abraham Lincoln: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

What do you think about T.H.I.N.K.? Any stories or examples of how one or more of the components of T.H.I.N.K. made a difference in your relationship with someone?