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Before You Speak, You May Want to THINK

Radiance Talley | Jul 5, 2024

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

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Radiance Talley | Jul 5, 2024

The views expressed in our content reflect individual perspectives and do not represent the authoritative views of the Baha'i Faith.

A month ago, a man approached me and said, “When I first met you last week, you looked like a 15-year-old. Now that you’re not wearing that hat, you look better now.”

I didn’t know how to respond to that half-compliment, half-insult. I sighed. Before people speak, they need to THINK.

RELATED: How to Apologize: The 6 Steps of a Great Apology

The Importance of Thinking Before You Speak

Many of us know what it’s like to be offended or hurt by comments that people blurt out to us without thinking. Baha’u’llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith, wrote

Human utterance is an essence which aspireth to exert its influence and needeth moderation. …As to its moderation, this hath to be combined with tact and wisdom as prescribed in the Holy Scriptures and Tablets.

It’s not wise, tactful, or appropriate to spout every statement that comes to our minds. Respectful and effective communication requires self-restraint as we determine what should and should not be said.

RELATED: What Does It Mean To Be Impeccable With Your Word?

What the Acronym THINK Stands For

The acronym THINK invites us to ask the following five questions before we speak.

Is It True?

Is what you are about to say the truth? Baha’u’llah wrote:

Truthfulness and trustworthiness involve much more than not telling lies; they embody the overarching capacity to discern, value, and uphold truth itself. Without these spiritual qualities, neither individual nor social progress is possible.

Not only should we always tell the truth, but we should also have the discernment to differentiate between proven facts and our faulty perceptions and opinions. This helps us avoid spreading misinformation and making false, derogatory, and slanderous statements about others. Moreover, Abdu’l-Baha, one of the central figures of the Baha’i Faith, stated:

If the sum of all sins were to be weighed in the balance, falsehood would, on its own, countervail them; nay, its evils would even outweigh them and its detriment prove greater. It were better for thee that thou shouldst be a blasphemer and tell the truth than that thou shouldst mouth the formulas of faith and yet be a liar.

Is It Helpful?

If you voiced what you are thinking, would it help or benefit the person you are talking to? Would your words provide solace, support, clarity, or understanding to your friend or the situation?

Is It Inspiring?

Would your words nurture, encourage, and inspire someone to be the best version of themselves? Baha’u’llah wrote:

One word is like unto springtime causing the tender saplings of the rose-garden of knowledge to become verdant and flourishing, while another word is even as a deadly poison. It behooveth a prudent man of wisdom to speak with utmost leniency and forbearance so that the sweetness of his words may induce everyone to attain that which befitteth man’s station.

Is It Necessary?

If voicing your thoughts would not aid in someone’s healing, inspire someone’s growth, or protect you or others from future harm, then what you are thinking may not be necessary to say out loud. 

As Thumper’s father advised him in the 1942 Disney movie “Bambi,” “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” This brings us to our final question…

Is It Kind?

Is what you are going to say kind? Will your words uplift someone’s spirit and gladden their heart? 

The Baha’i writings say that “there is no greater satisfaction than being a source of joy to the hearts.” Abdu’l-Baha asked God that we “become like angels of heaven, sources of happiness to souls.”

Our words can be as damaging as fire or as illuminating as light, but everything we say has an effect. By pausing to THINK before we speak, we can have more effective communication and positive interactions. Let’s remember to choose our words wisely, ensuring that they uphold the truth, offer help, provide inspiration, are necessary, and demonstrate kindness.

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Comments

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  • Zachary L. Zavid
    Jul 6, 2024
    -
    Excellent piece “THINK.”
    True - Helpful - Inspiring - Necessary - Kind
  • Zachary L. Zavid
    Jul 6, 2024
    -
    Excellent piece “THINK.”
    True - Helpful - Inspiring - Necessary - Kind
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