I heard about an Arabian proverb. It says: the tongue has three watchmen.
Before you speak, you must answer the question each watchman asks.
Watchman 1: Is it the truth?
The truth is always the best place to start. I suspect every person has had a negative experience of saying something that wasn’t truthful.
Watchman 2: Is it kind?
This reminds us to think before we speak. I’ve hurt people by replying quickly with sarcasm. I’ve hurt people by not considering all those listening before making a critical comment. Being mindful of your words helps avoid a rude reputation.
Watchman 3: Will it help?
You may say something true. You may craft the words in such a way as to minimize the pain. But, at the end of the day, your purposeful words should be on target and improve on the relationship. If you aren’t sure, hold up.
True. Kind. Helpful. If your words and actions yield those results, your influence will be great.
PalletOne CEO Howe Wallace
Since 2005, he has been sharing his thoughts on the organization, leadership, and communication in an online daily note to teammates called Daily with HQ.