“Why don’t you think before you speak?”
Maybe you were chastised with that question as a kid.
Or maybe that was a thought about a colleague, client or cousin.

What exactly does it mean to “think before you speak”?
What can you think about before you speak?

With cultural intelligence, each encounter is a chance to learn
Learn about the other person’s context.
Learn about their experience.

Why bother?
That’s how you flip assuming to knowing.
That’s how you uncover what’s up and what’s hurting.
That’s how your gaze softens.
That’s how you create connection.

When someone says something off-putting, demeaning or maddening:
“Think before you speak” and act.
Slow down and take a breath.
Maybe take three deep breaths to buy you a moment,
To drop your heart rate.

With that softer gaze, you could gently ask…
“How’d you feel about that?”
“What happened?”
“What’s going on for you?”

Then hear them all … the … way … out. Because…
It’s in their answer you discover their circumstances.
It’s in their story you uncover compassion.
It’s thinking before speaking that…
Bridges divides and…
Nourishes human connection.

To learn more tools, take my online course, Awkward to Awesome. Discover two tools in each of the six 30-minute sessions to bridge divides and generate more productivity, engagement and commitment in any workplace and community. Hosted by Maryville University.


  1. Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash