Farnam Street helps you make better decisions, innovate, and avoid stupidity.

With over 350,000 monthly readers and more than 87,000 subscribers to our popular weekly digest, we've become an online intellectual hub.

Four Questions To Ask Yourself Before Opening Your Mouth

Yoga

A friend passed along a copy of Yoga Wisdom at Work.

The book is a quick read. I took enough away from it to feel like it was time well spent.

One of the best parts of the book for me was on authentic conversations and the right speech.

Here are four questions to consider each time you speak.

1. Is it true?
2. Is it necessary?
3. Is it kind?
4. Does it improve upon the silence?

These can be incorporated into the acronym THINK: True, Helpful, Improves upon the silence, Necessary, and Kind.

Here is the discussion on the three elements of truth that followed:

It is no coincidence that the first question is about truth. That is the standard of satya, the second yama. We see truth as having three facets:

1. Telling the truth as you know it.
2. Being willing to hear another’s truth as they know it.
3. Understanding that many things can be true at the same time.

At work, the third point is an important and often over-looked facet of a truth-telling where version of “What happened here?” and “Who did what?” are numerous and have significant ramifications. When things get derailed or problems arise, trying to untangle “who said what to whom and when” can create an energy-sapping blame game. In addition, claiming that your experience is the only “truth” is the antithesis of learning. The lessons of discovery that spring from understanding multiple points of view, each of which is experienced as true for the individual, get lost in defensiveness and recrimination.

Acknowledging that many things can be true at the same time enhances your ability to truly hear others, be curious about their point of view, and find common understanding that serves the whole.

As Oscar Wilde said, “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

THINK before you speak.

(image via blue mountain fitness)