We hear people say, “I have no filter! I speak my mind.” I never thought much of this and only viewed it as having or not having a filter is determined by your personality. After reflecting on the different leadership positions I have been a part of, I realized that there is a bigger purpose in being mindful of how we deliver our thoughts to someone else.
Mindfulness is a practice and it’s been a mainstream idea for good reason. In accordance with psychology, it is to be aware of one’s self and surroundings. I can’t stress enough how this practice has kept me accountable in so many situations. I go back to moments where I was careless and it only created disconnection through misunderstanding. Carelessness is the opposite of mindfulness due to the fact that it is to literally not care enough to respond vs react. I would argue that we are being selfish when we speak our thoughts to someone and we dismiss being mindful in our communication. Now this does not mean we do not speak our truth but it definitely means we have the other person in mind so that we do our best not to offend and embarrass them with our opinions. We excuse ourselves before we say something that may come across as abrasive and we do it sincerely. You may be tempted to ask a personal question and so you may say, “I’m sorry if this question comes off as intrusive, and if it is something you don’t want to talk about then I understand but do you wish to have kids someday?”. Being able to understand that what we say has an effect on how the other person receives it is to understand emotions.
Having emotional intelligence is something people rave about. Emotional Intelligence is to have the ability to interpret emotions in others, in yourself and in collective situations. If we’re a generation that doesn’t believe in having a filter, then are we a generation that lacks emotional intelligence? I believe the need we fulfill from mastering this skill is the need for connection. When we’re able to solve what provoked an emotion during communication with others, we can proceed to communicate with clarity. I recently had a conversation with a man who had a different stance on an idea than I did and after communicating my thoughts, his response was extremely refreshing. After he waited for me to finish he said, “I’m being quiet because I’m realizing that I am getting defensive and I don’t want to so that it doesn’t affect how I communicate to you”. His ability to express what he was feeling after what I said with such humility was enough information for me to be even more cautious of how I came across. I sat patiently while it was my turn to listen. I was moved to witness two people with two different experiences create a connection of understanding because we spoke with such care in the way the other perceived each other’s words.
I believe that to have a filter is to practice responsibility. I have observed that responsibility isn’t everyone’s favorite thing which is why it must be easy to resort to having no filter. I must point out that there is a fine line between having etiquette vs not saying what you mean in order to not hurt someone’s feelings. We may exercise our right to say what we think is important to share but also realize that this right comes with responsibility. Exercising our rights with no responsibility is to act through a state of entitlement. Due to social media, we place opinions on a pedestal. We allow a place to comment but it doesn’t end there, people can also comment on your comment and like it too. We have created this illusion that our opinions are far more important than they actually are. Having an opinion that we think is worth saying out loud is to say, “I have something valuable to share” and yet we have stopped holding ourselves up to this standard. John Ford, an Iconic American Film Director during the 1940s-1960s once said, “You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart”.
Message from Victoria GOLD
Giving attention and care to what we say is to hold ourselves up to a high standard. When we remember that verbal communication holds extreme power, we take back control of our tongue. Only fools allow their tongues to have control over them. My hope is that we continue to practice mindfulness when we speak to others and even ourselves because it truly matters.