Discretion: Filter and Edit Your Speech

Have you ever known someone who tends to say everything he thinks? There is no filter between thoughts and speech. It is a flawed type of communication that reasons, “If I think it, I should say it.”

Verbal diarrhea.

Before you turn your thoughts into sound waves, send them through filters that will snag the detritus and let the worthy thoughts pass through. Filters like these:



  • Is what I’m about to say accurate and truthful (or am I assuming, telling a half-truth, misleading, etc.)?
  • Is this the right time to speak?
  • Is this the right place to speak?
  • At any given time in a conversation, is it my turn to speak or should I remain silent?
  • Is this the best person(s) to share these thoughts with?
  • Will what I say be helpful? Is it necessary?



If you allow these filters to do their job, I suspect you’ll talk less and the world will be a better place.

Thoughts that make it through the filters will then need to be edited. A good editor makes prose clean, clear, and concise. Here are some items to consider:



  • Have I already said this? If so, there’s probably no need to repeat it.
  • Will what I’m about to say make sense?
  • Does my audience have the right context to understand what I’m going to say?
  • How can I be most clear and concise?



If you edit your thoughts before you speak them, we’ll more easily understand what you want to say and the risk of miscommunication will be greatly decreased. Before you speak ask yourself if what you’re about to say is worth it.

The gold standard for communication is: well said and worth saying.


What? – Filter and edit your thoughts before speaking.

So what? – Analyze yourself: do you scrutinize your thoughts before you speak?

Now what? – It takes time and self-discipline to incorporate these suggestions into your life, but the sooner you start, the better.

Leaders – Consider your organization’s internal and external communication. Are all communiques filtered and edited? When you use your “leader’s voice” are you careful and thoughtful about what you say?

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