If you’re like me, you have often said something that you regretted saying, sometimes right away, and sometimes much later when you reflect on it.
Have you ever been embarrassed when someone you didn’t think was listening heard what you said? Perhaps it was a bit of gossip, or an off-color joke.
Here are two suggestions to help you avoid saying things you will regret:
The first is fairly simple: Never say anything that requires you to check to see who is listening. This should take care of all gossip, inappropriate humor, or racial or ethnic slurs. If you have to check who’s listening. Just don’t say it.
The second suggestion is a little harder to accomplish. While it is simple in concept, it may be harder to achieve in practice:
Always know what you hope to accomplish by saying what you are about to say.
Suppose you are angry with a checkout person who short changed you. What will you accomplish by yelling at her? Will she be less likely to short change someone else? How will you be better off if you strike back?
Suppose you and your partner are arguing? What will you gain by a sarcastic remark? Will your partner be more or less likely to see your view?
Suppose someone says something truly stupid. What will you accomplish by pointing it out to them? Will it make them less likely to say something stupid again? Will it hurt them? What benefit is it to you to hurt someone?
Follow these two rules, and you will certainly say fewer things you will later regret saying.