In today’s world, it seems like everyone is quick to anger and they’re even quicker to voice that anger. But what good does that do? More often than not, it just makes the situation worse. So, what can we do to help ourselves say the right things when we’re stressed or upset? Take a mental pause and use the acronym T.H.I.N.K to assess whether you should actually say what you’re thinking.

Before you speak in the heat of the moment, ask yourself these questions:

T – Is it true?

When you’re about to say something, ask yourself if it’s actually true first. A lot of times, we tend to exaggerate or even outright lie when we’re upset, and that can cause unnecessary hurt and damage to our relationships. If what you’re about to say isn’t completely true, consider refraining from saying anything at all – after all, half-truths are still lies.

H – Is it helpful?

Will what you’re about to say actually help the situation, or is it just going to make things worse? Do you really want to win the argument at any cost… or do you want to work toward a solution? If it’s not going to help, just bite your tongue and walk away (preferably before things get too heated).

I – Is it inspiring?

This one might seem a little weird at first, but hear us out: when you’re considering whether or not to say something, ask yourself if what you’re about to say will inspire others in a positive way or not. Will your words motivate them to be a better person or reach their goals? Or will they just bring them (and everyone else) down? Choose your words carefully and always aim to inspire!

N – Is It necessary?

Does what you want to say actually need to be said right now? Or can it wait until later (or possibly never)? If it doesn’t need to be said right this very second, then maybe consider holding your tongue until the time is right (if there ever is a “right” time). Saying everything that pops into our heads can sometimes do more harm than good – so choose your words wisely!

K – Is It Kind?

Finally, ask yourself if what you want to say is going to be kind or not. Hurtful words can do irreparable damage to our relationships with others, so think twice before uttering any insults or put-downs – even if they are 100% deserved (trust us, they rarely are). Oftentimes, the kindest thing we can do is nothing at all.

No? It’s Probably Best Not to Say Anything At All

If you can’t answer “yes” to most (or all) of those questions, then it’s probably best not to say anything at all. We’ve all been in a situation where we wish we could take back the words that came out of our mouth—but we can’t. Once the damage is done, there’s no taking it back. So, save yourself the headache and heartache and think before you speak.

A lot of times when we’re upset, we just want to be heard. And that’s perfectly understandable! But instead of lashing out and saying something hurtful, try this approach instead:

Take a deep breath and count to 10 (or 20, or 30…whatever works for you). This will give you a moment to calm down and collect your thoughts. Then, once you’ve calmed down enough to form coherent sentences, explain how you’re feeling using “I” statements (“I feel X because of Y”). This will help the other person understand where you’re coming from without putting them on the defensive. Lastly, try to be open-minded and willing to see things from the other person’s perspective—you may just be surprised at how well things can go if you approach the situation with compassion and understanding.