My father used to advise me: “think before you speak.” Coming from Dad it seemed to be as much criticism as wise counsel, but if we don’t follow this advice, we may entangle ourselves in conflicts or misunderstandings. Recently, in a small group discussion, a student mentioned the acronym THINK as a way of reflecting on wise speech and remembering the Buddha’s advice on wise speech.
THINK is such a nice way of remembering the Buddha’s advice:
“If speech has five marks, O monks, it is well spoken, not badly spoken, blameless and above reproach by the wise. What are these five marks? It is speech that is timely, true, gentle, purposeful and spoken with a mind of loving-kindness.” (Anguttara Nikaya, V. 198 and Majjhima Nikaya 21.11)
It is not really so difficult to think before we speak, if only we can slow down a little and connect with our present moment experience. Speaking with presence what is timely, honest, insightful, necessary, and kind certainly will reduce agitation in our relationships.