Words can help and words can harm. Every leader needs lots of wisdom in determining what to day and what not to say. For the most part, leaders do a lot of talking; maybe too much. Dan Rockwell shares some helpful thoughts to help us stop saying things we’ll regret!

Guest post by Dan Rockwell

Saying things you regret usually follows these six words, “Let me be honest with you.”

Being honest isn’t saying everything in your head.

Some thoughts shouldn’t become words.

Things you regret:

  1. Unfiltered words.
  2. Defensiveness.
  3. Retaliating when you feel hurt.
  4. Self-affirmation at the expense of others.

The things you regret come home with misery on a leash.

10 reasons to hold your tongue:

  1. Certainties shift. You could be wrong.
  2. Quick reactions are short-sighted.
  3. Hot emotion makes you stupid.
  4. Venom never yields advantage.
  5. Short-term reactions are easier than long-term responses.
  6. You care for yourself.
  7. You care for others.
  8. Consequences outweigh actions.
  9. Self-control is a virtue.
  10. Negative situations naturally dominate your thinking. Bad is stronger than good.

4 ways to stop saying things you regret:

#1. Respect the power of words.

Skillful leaders respect the power of words. Incompetence has no filter.


  1. Create beginnings.
  2. Establish trajectory. Words are rudders.
  3. Impact energy.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Jewish Proverb

#2. Complain less.

Repeated words program your brain. Habitual complaining teaches your brain to focus on things you don’t like and don’t want.

The more you complain, the more you want to complain.

Project #1: Establish positive speech hours. Walk around noticing good between 10:00 a.m. and 11 a.m., for example.

Project #2: Track language for a day. What percentage of your words fit into the category of complaining? Praising? Criticizing? Affirming?

#3. Choose positive intention before breathing words.

Choose to:

  1. Shift toward the future.
  2. Face adversity optimistically.
  3. Ignite movement.
  4. Infuse energy.

#4. Choose building-up over shutting-up.

Eliminating words you regret is a beginning, but it’s not enough. Successful leaders maximize the power of positive words.

Shutting-up protects you from things you regret. Building-up multiplies your leadership.

How do we stop saying things we regret?

Still curious:

10 Ways to Say the Right Thing Every Time