4 Ways to Stop Saying Things You Regret
Saying things you regret usually follows these six words, “Let me be honest with you.”
Being honest isn’t saying everything in your head.
Some thoughts shouldn’t become words.
Things you regret:
- Unfiltered words.
- Retaliating when you feel hurt.
- Self-affirmation at the expense of others.
The things you regret come home with misery on a leash.
10 reasons to hold your tongue:
- Certainties shift. You could be wrong.
- Quick reactions are short-sighted.
- Hot emotion makes you stupid.
- Venom never yields advantage.
- Short-term reactions are easier than long-term responses.
- You care for yourself.
- You care for others.
- Consequences outweigh actions.
- Self-control is a virtue.
- Negative situations naturally dominate your thinking. Bad is stronger than good.
4 ways to stop saying things you regret:
#1. Respect the power of words.
Skillful leaders respect the power of words. Incompetence has no filter.
- Create beginnings.
- Establish trajectory. Words are rudders.
- Impact energy.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Jewish Proverb
#2. Complain less.
Repeated words program your brain. Habitual complaining teaches your brain to focus on things you don’t like and don’t want.
The more you complain, the more you want to complain.
Project #1: Establish positive speech hours. Walk around noticing good between 10:00 a.m. and 11 a.m., for example.
Project #2: Track language for a day. What percentage of your words fit into the category of complaining? Praising? Criticizing? Affirming?
#3. Choose positive intention before breathing words.
- Shift toward the future.
- Face adversity optimistically.
- Ignite movement.
- Infuse energy.
#4. Choose building-up over shutting-up.
Eliminating words you regret is a beginning, but it’s not enough. Successful leaders maximize the power of positive words.
Shutting-up protects you from things you regret. Building-up multiplies your leadership.
How do we stop saying things we regret?
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great reminder Dan, throughout most days I will run through my head a few times – “based on my history, based on my current circumstances, based on my future hopes and dreams, is this a wise thing to do/say”.
Thanks Scott. The time dimension seems important – past, present, and future. I can see where too much thinking about the past causes reactionary living. Too much present-focus leads to short-term thinking. Too much future-focus neglects lessons learned and current needs. Cheers
Great perspective on a common problem people face. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on building up and I agree that replacing regretful words with this technique can definitely enhance leadership.
Thanks Cassandra. Sometimes success is about stopping the things that hold you back. But other times, success requires us to do more than eliminate negative behaviors. We need to add positive habits. I think it applies in this case. Cheers
I really like this one, Dan! I try to always remember: “People are always more important than things.” Even if someone needs corrective action of some kind, there is a way to give it without hurting them and making you feel regretful. It’s never a bad idea to be kind.
Thanks Elizabeth. It’s pretty easy to not notice our own harsh tone. I think I’m speaking kindly, but in the ears of others it feels like accusation. Kindness isn’t weakness as long as we’re committed to speak truthfully.
Someone once told me “Leadership often requires a bloody tongue” in reference to not spitting words out before you think things through (and bite your tongue!).
Dan, great advice. Emotional intelligence has historically been an underrated management skill but it’s becoming an essential skill in todays environment. -Austin S.
I really found this post to be insightful. One of the things you mentioned in your post was that we say things we regret by retaliating when we feel hurt. This has unfortunately been my experience more than a few times. You’re right in that our words have power, and we have be cognizant of how we wield that power. Best quote: “Successful leaders maximize the power of positive words.” I plan to put your post into action. This was great and very relatable!!