Thinking before speaking…

“Sometimes when I’m talking, my words can’t keep up with my thoughts. I wonder why we think faster than we speak. Probably so we can think twice.”

Bill Watterson

There is nothing better than a few moments of silence before one responds and commits to words what are often half-baked thoughts. I am a person who “thinks out loud” and that can often lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication.

The best advice I was ever given regarding thinking before speaking came from a class I took through Ty Boyd called the Executive Speaking Institute. During this class, which I took almost ten years ago, I learned that the moments I paused before responding to a question didn’t feel nearly as long or painful to the audience as they did in my head. That was a profound lesson for me. What I thought was a strength, being quick on my feet and having answers at the tip of my tongue, came across as a weakness because I would answer questions in a rambling or long-winded fashion.

Taking a moment to pause, frame the my response in my head and then answering the question conveyed to the audience that I was carefully considering the question, that it was meaningful and valuable, and it gave me the time to not let my words get ahead of my mind. This was incredible perspective and applies to so many areas of life.

The moral of the story here is that the moments that you take to think before you speak don’t feel nearly as long to the person that you are speaking with as they do to you. And those precious moments allow you to (hopefully) think through your response before you commit to words a thought that is only half baked.

Thinking through writing…

“You don’t really understand your thoughts until you express them in words.”

Elmer L. Towns

I do my best “thinking” when I am actually writing. Putting words to paper, or in my case to the screen, is when I can really find myself thinking through what it is that I am trying to convey. “Thinking out loud” via writing has become my favorite way to clarify my thoughts and truly understand what it is that is rattling around inside my head. This is one reason that I started this blog just over a year ago, to get into a discipline of daily writing and thinking through my writing. It works, at least it has for me. Give it a shot, write daily and see what happens. I’ll bet you find much greater clarity in your thinking.

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