"Engage brain before putting mouth into gear"
"Think, before you speak"
"If in doubt, don't"
Great advice, right? So why don't we always follow it? Simple, because we are human and we all make mistakes. I'm sure we've all been guilty of saying something in the heat of the moment or on the fly that we wish we could take back - I know I've done it. Trying to keep the sensible part of your brain ahead of the spontaneity of the mouth can cause problems.
I enjoy a good conversation. It can be informative, invigorating, serious, or light hearted banter. I love being able to be completely free in the conversation and not have to censor my thoughts - easier said than done. I don't always listen to that little voice in my head that warns me to stop and think about what is about to come out of my mouth. One of the things I'm known for, is my quick wit and that has helped me in a lot of situations but it can occasionally get me in trouble. So have double entendre's and slips of the tongue.
Inflection in the voice can say a lot - especially for those of us who are visually impaired and therefore not apt to pick up on visual cues.
Talking to people is great, but sometimes it is just easier to put it in writing - especially if you are hitting sensitive subjects. The last thing you want to do is hurt someone or have your words misinterpreted. There have been times that I've used written communication rather than verbal so that I can think things out more and express myself in clearer terms. Depending on the subject, circumstances and person it can be difficult to say what you really want to say and not have it misunderstood. It is also safer than saying things in the heat of the moment that can't be taken back. Putting it in writing, ensures that the person can look back and see what you really said, not what they thought they heard.
This is especially true if you are attempting to settle any kind of dispute.
If you are writing a letter like that you have to follow some simple rules.
1. The first draft is to get the emotion out of your system.
2. NEVER EVER MAIL THE FIRST DRAFT!! (I knew someone who did that and most of her family has never forgiven her.)
3. Let the first draft sit overnight before you reread or change anything
4. After you've had a little time to digest, rewrite the letter with a little more thought and understanding of the situation. - Note: be sure to destroy that first draft!.
5. Say what you think and mean what you say without being crude.
6. Let the letter sit for a couple of days or even a week if you can. You'll be surprised at how much you can calm down and see things differently in that time.
7. After taking time to reflect, you may feel the letter is unnecessary, or the situation has resolved itself. If that is the case, then destroy it so that no one else ever sees what you wrote.
8. Rewrite it a third time if you want to make changes and let it sit overnight.
9. If you still feel that you need to send the letter then you have to be willing to accept the consequences. That could mean loosing a job, friend, changing a relationship or your life.
Once the words are out there - verbally or in print - they can't be taken back. We may be able to forgive, but it is often hard to forget what others say. Taking that extra time to think things through isn't always easy, but learning to listen to our instincts and that inner voice can teach a lot about patience, tolerance, thoughtfulness, and respecting the rights and feelings of those around us.
Trust me, I've been there.