A few years ago, I wrote about a recurring theme in my life—my struggle to think before speaking. It was accompanied by a helpful acrostic (see on the left) from the word “think.”
World Wide Group and leaders like Amway Executive Diamond Theresa Danzik and Diamond Sandee Tsuruda have been instrumental in providing mentorship in this area, where I had a lot of work to do (and, after making improvements over the years, remain a work in progress).
There are numerous examples of the benefit of thinking before speaking—or not saying anything at all. But just because we know, intellectually, that we should be “quick to hear, slow to speak,” as the Biblical book of James notes, that doesn’t mean that it’s a simple thing to do.
If it came naturally to us, then James might not have bothered to write those words. So we need to be reminded, again and again.
Last week, those reminders popped up twice in a matter of a few minutes.
First, it was my son grumbling about dinner plans on his birthday—after a day full of activity and treats centered on him and his twin sister. Rather than let us elaborate on why we were going to a potluck dinner (largely so that I didn’t have to cook for a large group of people after a very trying week and a pack-filled day), he began to whine.
After exhorting him to heed the “slow to speak” counsel, we continued on our way to the yard where my husband and I had gotten our wedding photographs taken 20 years earlier.
Specifically, we wanted to get a photo in the same spot by a tree that has served as our “official” wedding day photo.
Our kids snapped the photos and as we chatted with the homeowner (let’s call her Ms. Johnson), she told us a story related to the tree:
About three years ago, after a tree-trimming company overlooked a branch that was hanging over her neighbor’s yard, she called the company back to let them know they needed to return the next business day.
As Ms. Johnson was about to clarify the situation in an over-the-fence conversation, the neighbor (Mr. Smith, let’s call him) cut her off with a snide remark: “I see that you made sure all the branches over your roof got trimmed.”
From there, the conversation went downhill and soon, Mr. Johnson was involved. It descended further into a shouting match.
In those few moments, the generally positive relationship that the families had built up for about six years fell apart.
As much as this is an unfortunate story, I am grateful that our children were present to take it all in so they can see the destruction that can occur when we don’t hold our tongues and fail to apply the “THINK” principle.
The relations between the Johnsons and the Smiths have been icy for these past three years. And it can all be traced to one person’s decision to do what came naturally: Mr. Smith was quick to speak and slow to listen.