There are many things that do not need to be said.
Usually, I realize this seconds after I say them.
My only solace is I am not alone in this, but that does not give me comfort.
I normally try to not say anything offensive or insensitive, but sometimes, the context in which it is said makes it come across that way.
Sometimes, it’s my tone.
I am big on someone’s tone of voice conveying what their feelings are, but sometimes, my own tone does not match my intentions very well.
It is hard to read tone in email, text, and chat messages, and while they are my favorite and most used forms of communication, they leave little to be desired when it comes to interpretation.
If I need to let someone know I am not angry, I use excessive exclamation points, And I am not a fan of excessive exclamation points.
God forbid you accidentally hit your caps lock; typing words in all capital letters is the equivalent of yelling.
Not having a font that can express your tone is a definite disservice in our text-heavy life.
Communication is just so much harder than it used to be, or at least it feels that way.
There are so many opportunities for things to be misread, misheard and miscommunicated.
We have isolated one another because of our opinions.
We don’t verbally talk anymore and when we do, we don’t say what we need to say.
Or, we find ourselves listening just long enough to jump in with what we want to say.
I have done it myself.
I think of something I want to say and instead of filing it away to mention later, I blurt it out because I am scared I will forget.
With communication breaking down left and right, it is important to listen as well as to speak.
And that may mean not responding right away when someone says something.
Especially when someone says or texts me something that may upset me.
Especially when I read something on social media that gets my ire up.
Especially when I am already emotional, or tired, or hungry.
And especially when I am distracted and do not know the whole situation.
I am going to practice the pause.
I am going to stop and take a big, deep breath and ask myself if what I am about to say or type is needed.
Is it helpful or hurtful? If it’s hurtful, it doesn’t need to be said or typed no matter how satisfying it may feel.
Am I going to say it the way I intended it to be said? How would I feel if it was said to me?
Maybe by doing this, I will stop saying things that come back and bite me in the tater.
Or, not hurt someone’s feelings unintentionally.
By practicing the pause, I will be able to put a trap on my mouth and fingers so my words don’t reveal my ignorance.
I will pause to respond, rather than react.
In person, it may be trickier, but I will practice the pause before I open my mouth.
I will listen carefully, to see if the person needs advice, encouragement, or were just needing to vent.
Online, where most of my communication is handled, will be where the pause will be practiced the most.
This may mean some messages will go “read” but not responded to right away.
I will take my time to really think about what I want to say. I’d rather it take me a day to get back to someone than to send them one of those dreaded “thumbs up” emojis to just let them know I read it. That is not a true reply, unless you’re the Fonz.
It may mean there won’t be an immediate reply; it may take me a while to compose my response.
And in some cases, maybe a response won’t be needed at all.
Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the recently e-published novel, “The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery.”