Words matter.

Written words. Spoken words. Words that you think inside your head.

They all have power.

Back in the ’60s and ’70s being disruptive in school was a bad thing – probably still is for the most part. However, disruptive in modern terms now describes the best and brightest in business today, even throughout history.

And, the connotations that go with the term disruptive are also favorable especially in technology: innovative, creative, original, and more.

It would have been great back in high school if my teachers had said, “Mitch, you are so innovative, creative, and original – now keep up that good work down in the principal’s office!”

It can be difficult to say what you mean with words but holding back the words that need to come out causes other negative side effects, but I have a little helper that you can use.

You Get What You Give

In business and personal affairs, you not only want to be careful about the words you choose, but also how you deliver them to your listener, and maybe most importantly, even if you need to speak to them at all.

Earlier in my career, I used the following words when addressing a team member: “I need can do, not can’t do from you and your team.”

These words had an adverse effect not only on that person but also ultimately on our relationship going forward.

Not what I was going for.

The Three Questions

Before you communicate, weigh what you want to express with the following three questions.

  1. Is it kind?
  2. Is it true?
  3. Is it necessary?

It Ain’t Easy

If what you want to say is not kind, then you can stop immediately. If you are not 100% confident that you can communicate in a kind manner, then wait a few hours or even until the next morning to respond.

If you don’t have all the facts, then do more research before putting your message out there. Remember, relationships could be at stake.

If you determine that the communication is not necessary, then you are off the hook. This evaluation might eliminate 50% or more of all emails—just imagine how much better everyone will feel!

Maybe the easy factor is why this approach is ignored so often in our relationships. Being authentically kind is difficult. Cracking off the first things that come into our heads seems much easier but there are consequences.

Time Well Spent

Evaluating your communication with others through this lens will take more time. But what is more important than relationships?

The happy result: Everyone wins. Your family, friends, and co-workers—maybe even the world.

It’s almost impossible to be upset with a genuinely kind and thoughtful response.

Most surprising is that situations often resolve themselves without your intervention. In the time it takes you to properly run through the three questions, things might have already been worked out. (It has happened to me on several occasions.)

Welcome to a quieter, happier, and more connected world.