Do You Think Before You Talk? Or Talk Before You Think?

8545749_sSome people think before they talk. Others talk before they think.

In my experience, only some people have brains and tongues that function at exactly the same speed.

Perhaps the idea that thinking and talking don’t always happen together seems odd or silly. But let me assure you that knowing the relationship between someone’s speech and someone’s thinking is critically important.

Observing the Timing Patterns of Thought and Speech

Once you understand how the speed of someone’s brain and their tongue relate to each other, you’ll have a much better idea about how to get along with that person.

My wonderful life-partner, Tyko, always thinks before he talks… way before. Ask him a question, and he’ll actually pause before he answers. Sometimes he pauses for so long that I wonder if he’s heard my question. In fact, sometimes he pauses for so long that I forget what question I asked him.  Really!

But when he responds, I can count on the fact that he’s thought through his response. He’s considered every angle. And he means what he says.

This time lag is not just a habit. Tyko’s pauses reflect the way his brain and tongue are wired. Asking him to change is as foolish as asking a pendulum to speed up. It’s simply not going to happen.

On the other hand, my friend Jamie speaks first and it takes a while for her brain to catch up with her hair-trigger tongue.

Ask Jamie a question and you may get an answer before you’ve finished the question. In fact, Jamie is sometimes so quick to respond that she answers the question that was in her mind rather than the one you were asking.

Give Jamie a bit of time and she’s likely to temper her response as her brain catches up to her tongue.

Her quick responses make her exciting and fun to be with. Conversation is lively and flows without hitches and starts. But she too can be frustrating when she says things she doesn’t really mean.

Your Patterns of Pacing Are Probably Hard-Wired

I’m convinced that the relative speed of thinking and speaking are patterns that are determined by the way you process information. Much as you might want to, you’re not going to get them to change. Not in yourself and not in others.

But becoming aware of these patterns can do wonders in helping the relationships you forge with others. It tempers your patience.

If someone you are with thinks before he talks, you’ll have the patience to wait for the response. When people talk before they think, you’ll know not to jump at the initial response. And instead of being frustrated by their off-the-cuff remarks, you’ll wait a bit, giving them a chance to be more thoughtful.

(If this piece struck home, take a look at Winning as a Hare — and As a Tortoise.)

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What’s Your Thought/Speech Pacing Pattern?

Think about the relative speed of your own thought and speech patterns. Do you respond quickly while your mind is still processing information? Or do you wait to respond until you’ve fully thought something through?

Being aware of your own pacing patterns will not only help you understand yourself better, but it will also make you more aware of the patterns of the people around you.

In what ways do the relative pace of your thought and speech patterns effect the way you function? Share your thoughts in the comments below.