Have you ever typed something you wanted to post on your facebook wall, or tweet about, but then you quickly, or slowly, hit the backspace key on your keyboard to delete it?
This has happened to me many times. In fact, I have written lengthy emails intending to hit the send button but then just when I am about to hit ‘send’, I hesitate. And here I am talking about good hesitation; the kind that comes with the benefit of hindsight.
You may be right about a particular position that you hold. Maybe even within your rights to speak your mind as forcefully as you can. But in a moment of hesitation, hindsight kicks in! How will the message be received? Is this the right time to say what I have a right to say? And am I using the right, non-antagonistic words to convey my message?
It has happened to me many times. Sometimes ago I wrote an email to my spiritual authority in the ‘heat of the moment’. But immediately I hit the ‘send’ button, I froze. For a moment there I wished that yahoo mail will malfunction this one time. Just so you know, my wish was not misplaced; neither was it granted. You see, I had many times before been frustrated by an unresponsive yahoo mail. This one time, I found myself clinging to the off-chance that my email was ‘undelivered’.
Well, yahoo mail on this occasion worked seamlessly. I waited for the backlash, and it came, fast and furious. Had I hesitated just before I sent the email as opposed to going into panic mode after hitting the ‘send’ button, I would have saved myself a lot of agony.
Have you ever spoken out of turn, or too soon? Do you sometimes wish you could un-say or undo something that you said or did? Unlike the word processors such as the one I am using to type, in real life words spoken in public cannot be unspoken. You may try your best to control the damage after words have left your mouth, but you cannot delete those words from the memories of their hearers.
I understand the need to act quickly and swiftly without hesitation in some instances because if you snooze, you lose. However in other occasions, especially when you feel you have to express strong feelings with a view to defending yourself; or you feel the urge to ‘give them a piece of your mind’, prudence calls that you hesitate and carefully weigh your words before you release them.
Wisdom in most cases is a result of knowing what to say or do; how to say it, who to say it to, and when to say it. Before you do or say anything, run it through Socrates triple filter test of goodness, truth, and usefulness. And even when in your opinion you pass the filter tests with flying colors, before you speak or hit the send button, consider whether the timing is right.
You will save yourself a lot of trouble by practicing selective hesitation. Knowing when to act without hesitation and when to act with restraint will get you out of many a tight situation. However, if you are the kind of person who is always rush and hardly stops to think, you will always find yourself either apologizing or making excuses for your actions.