True. Kind. Necessary: Uncluttering your Speech

Some of the best advice in Simplicity Parenting is not strictly parenting advice. It is the idea that we should unclutter our speech. In the book, this is a way to calm ourselves so that our speech doesn’t become a constant running commentary that makes children more anxious.

The three-word test this new economical way of speaking should pass is: true, kind, necessary. Are the words I’m saying true? Are they kind? Are they necessary?

Even taken out of the realm of parenting, this is a great way to tell if your speech is cluttered. Take a day to notice how much you say that doesn’t pass this simple test. I don’t generally struggle much with saying untrue or unkind things, but I still catch myself needing to bite my tongue when I’m about to say something mean.  If you struggle with this, stop and ask yourself if you will walk away from that conversation a better person for what you’ve said.

I mostly struggle with the “necessary” part. I’m a very verbal person, and I tend to keep talking, even after my brain has shut off. I’ve found that I fear silence, and will keep talking just to fill it up. I’m slowly learning to avoid this—to let myself be quiet. Silence is just as important as speech, and it makes what you say have that much more weight. This isn’t to say that you must remain silent unless you have something of great importance to say, but it does affirm the adage: think before you speak.

This is also a great filtering system for your inner monologue as well. Even if you are careful with your words, how many of your thoughts would pass this test? I know many of mine wouldn’t. So even as I’m thinking, I’ll ask myself if what I’m thinking is really true, or is it just wild speculation? Is what I’m thinking kind, even especially if it is about myself? Is this train of thought really necessary?

More than anything else, this test allows room for quiet in a way little else does. When you are thinking true, kind, and necessary thoughts, it means you are not thinking untrue, unkind, and unnecessary thoughts. Which, if you are like me, leaves a lot of room for quiet. When you are speaking, and thinking before you do so, you can leave a conversation feeling good about the things you’ve said, instead of regretting a passing comment.

How do you unclutter your speech?


4 thoughts on “True. Kind. Necessary: Uncluttering your Speech

  1. My husband always says something along these lines. He says in a situation where you have to think and respond on the fly, speak slowly. That way you give yourself time to think, and a few quiet moments are better than filling it with things you don’t actually think or believe!

    Love the idea of uncluttering my thoughts! And that rule is perfect. Thanks!

  2. Really like the idea of uncluttering my speech. I’ve uncluttered lots of things in the past few years, but haven’t ever thought of applying this concept to my words.

    A guiding principle for me is this one: Say what you mean and mean what you say without saying it mean.

    As a reforming people pleaser, I’ve had a hard time with saying “mean” things (anything I know the listener doesn’t want to hear). But sometimes it’s necessary to speak them. I think my speech can get cluttered when I’m trying to soften some sort of blow. It really doesn’t serve anything well to do that, I’m finding.

  3. What a beautiful and eloquent post. I recently had a friend (a friend I’ve had for several years) blast me with the most mean and hurtful words and talk about being caught off guard. I was floored. Here it is 6 weeks later and I find myself still fighting the tears over it. I have only shared it with 2 really close friends (they don’t know this person) and my husband. All 3 couldn’t believe I didn’t come right back at her. That’s just not me. No matter how hurtful and unkind someone is to me I never ever am unkind back, two wrongs just don’t make a right. I take great pride in what I say and how I come across and one word that is truly important to me is kindness. Anyway, thank you for your beautiful thoughts and words, Going by your photos, you’re young but you are obviously so wise beyond your years and I want you to know from someone who’s probably old enough to be your mother that I really appreciate and love reading your blog. You’re an inspiration! Just wanted you to know.

    • I’m so sorry that happened to you! I think so much hurt in the world could be avoided if people would think through their words before they say them, and like you, take pride in them.

      Good for you for not stooping to revengeful words, which I’m sure would have simply escalated the problem. That said, I hope you’ve been able to talk to this friend and tell her how much she hurt you. Being kind in what we say does not mean we have to be silent when others are unkind to us. Either way, I hope you can find some peace with the situation.

      And thank you so much for the compliments. I am 24, and though I don’t feel young, sometimes I’m thoroughly reminded how young I am. Your words made me tear up a little! It’s connections and kindnesses like this that are the whole reason I blog!

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