I read a lot. Well, to be precise, I listen a lot. Story and I love audiobooks. This past weekend I finished Louise Penny’s latest, A Better Man. If you are a fan of murder mysteries, I highly recommend Louise Penny. While her works are entertaining for sure, I often also find little life gemstones among the prose. This latest book taught me the wisdom of asking yourself three questions before speaking.
Story is in those early adolescent years, when she seems determined to misinterpret everything I say. I don’t know if she does it intentionally or if her hormone-rattled brain just doesn’t work right. Regardless, it is both frustrating and concerning. Instead of just brushing off what I say, like a good preteen would do, she takes everything I say to heart and remembers it—to be used in later arguments, I’m sure.
I’ve never been quick-witted, so I naturally have to think about things before I say them. This does not in any way guarantee I will say the right thing though. I’ve already screwed up more times than I can count, and like any good parent, I wonder what damage I’m doing to my child.
If I stopped to think about all the advice given by other parents, therapists, family language gurus, etc., I would never have an actual conversation with my child. So, when I came across this quick, easy, and simple way to determine whether or not what I want to say is a good thing to say, I shone with the bright light of understanding (there may have been angels singing hallelujah in the background).
Penny, through her main character, imparts this wisdom: Before you speak, ask yourself three questions: Is it true? Is it kind? Does it need to be said?
Personally, I can think of several times that I could answer yes to only one of the three questions but said it anyway, much to my later dismay. While it is certainly impossible to ask yourself these questions prior to every single time you speak, I think they are fabulous guidelines to consider before delving into topics that have the potential to be hurtful, are unfamiliar territory, or are discussed in heated moments.
Try it out, and let me know what you think. I have high hopes for this strategy!