How to Be More Careful About What You Say

Ever blurt something out and regret it? Say everything you think before reflecting? The trouble with blurting out just anything is that it's often your least careful thoughts that come out, and they may insult, offend, annoy or simply irritate those who hear these things. Remembering that you can't take it back once it's out, learning to be more careful about what you say is the road to happier relationships and fewer regrets.


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    Notice that you have this affliction of blurting out things that are not appropriate. If you don't realize, you're not going to be able to deal with it effectively. Here are some questions to ask yourself that might help you see clearly if you have this obstacle.
    • Have you ever said something unintentionally that hurt someone's feelings?
    • Have you said something you haven't meant?
    • Have you ever said anything you didn't want to that just "slipped out?"
    If you answered yes to all of these questions, you may well have the incapability to control everything you say. This doesn't mean you're out of luck or that it's bad news––all you need is to begin acknowledging that you do and start working on no longer doing it.
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    Learn to cope with this bad habit. As well as catching yourself do it, begin to undo any of the damage it may be causing.
    • First, say sorry to anyone that you may have hurt haphazardly, if you haven't already done so.
    • Secondly, tell your close friends and family or anyone else who will understand you, that you don't always say what you mean or vice versa.
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    Work on the problem. Talk to your friends and family about your tendency to say what you think without reflecting. Explain to them that you're going to do your best from now on to speak with greater care, to respond more slowly and to learn to buy time instead of reacting immediately to the things that annoy, excite or upset you. Ask for their help in gently pointing out when you blab all, and let them know that you won't be offended.
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    Be ready to apologize whenever needed. People who don't you very well or who don't know that you're working to minimize this bad habit may be offended if you say something out of turn. In this case, you could try to:
    • Explain that sometimes you really don't mean what you say, that it just comes out the wrong way.
    • Say sorry to anyone whose feelings or dignity may have been wounded.
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    Learn to reflect before speaking. Try to wait a minute, to give yourself some time to think after someone says something to you, before responding. If you need more time, or the silence is awkward, here are some helpful lines to use:
    • "That's news to me. I need some time to digest that. Do you mind if I get back to you with my thoughts later?"
    • "Wow, that's incredible/terrible/upsetting. I need a moment to process it please. Do you mind?"
    • "I am listening, please explain more to help me really understand your point."
    • "Could you run that by me another time please?"
    • "Gosh, I feel quite overwhelmed by that information/news/update. Could I have a moment please?"
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    Breathe deeply. This can help you to refrain from saying something mean back to a mean person or from cursing, arguing or making a hotheaded retort. Breathe from your stomach, to keep yourself calm.
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    Buy yourself time. Count to ten before giving your more reasoned response. If it helps, ask for a minute, and actually walk away to get some space and think through what you really want to say. Also think about the tone, along with the words, for when you do respond.
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    Remember that the trick is to respond rather than react. Reacting is a rash, immediate and emotional way to answer someone, whereas responding is a calm, considered and focused way of answering a person.
    • If you feel yourself getting agitated or angry, try to sit down and focus on your breath. Once you have calmed down, then respond.

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Categories: Conversation Skills