Shop class used to be a staple in high school curriculums. Students learned how to use tools and build projects with their hands. For some, the class was an introduction to basic carpentry. For others, it was training for a future vocation.

The first day of every shop class in the world began with the same safety lecture: No horseplay, always wear safety goggles, make sure tools are unplugged before adjusting them, etc.

After students began to work on their projects, instructors would typically offer them an additional nugget of wisdom: Measure twice, cut once.

The fact that the wisdom was dispensed by an instructor who might be missing a finger or two didn’t devalue its merit. Measure twice, cut once wasn’t about safety; it was about certainty.

Once a board was cut, there was no going back. If a mismeasurement caused a board to be cut shorter than it needed to be, that board could no longer be used. The student had to get another board, re-measure, and re-cut.

Mismeasurements were costly in terms of both time and money. Hence, it was better to be thorough and double-check measurements before cutting the board. The minor inconvenience of being thorough saved students and instructors a lot of aggravation.

Measure twice, cut once is the sort of transcending, sage advice that can also be applied to other aspects of life. The advice definitely applies to the art of being a good teammate.

The words we use to communicate with the other members of our team matter. Choosing the right words can empower and inspire them. Choosing the wrong words can cut them as deep as any saw.

Far too many relationships have been unnecessarily damaged by words spoken in haste. Once words are spoken, they can’t be taken back. Sure, you can apologize and try to subsequently explain what you meant to say, but that is the equivalent of having to get another board, re-measure, and re-cut.

The speaking in haste/apology cycle is an inefficient communication method.

Before good teammates speak, they measure their words. They weigh them, vet them, and assess the extent of their potential impact. The minor inconvenience of being thorough saves them a lot of aggravation.

Measuring your words requires more than just thinking before you speak. You must rehearse before you speak—internally. Take a moment to say the sentence to yourself before saying it aloud.

How did hearing those words make you feel? How will they likely make the intended recipient feel? Will the words you used produce your desired outcome? Can better words be chosen?

Our fear of silence can cause us to be self-conscious about the length of the pauses in our communication. But others don’t notice our pauses to be nearly as long as we assume they do. The speed of thought is faster than we realize.

Don’t allow a misperceived awkward pause to prevent you from rehearsing what you intend to say before you speak. The milliseconds you devote to measuring your words can keep you from cutting your teammates in an unintended way.

Every good teammate knows that preserving a relationship is much easier than repairing one. Measure twice, cut once.

As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.

Lance Loya is the founder and CEO of the Good Teammate Factory. He is a college basketball coach turned author, blogger, and professional speaker, who inspires TEAMBUSTERS to become TEAMMATES. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or through his weekly Teammate Tuesday blog.

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Did you know?

You can download FREE motivational posters from my website that encourage good teammate behaviors? Print them yourself or take them to Walgreens or Walmart or Staples to have them enlarged. These posters are great for offices, locker rooms, classrooms, or anywhere that teams meet. Learn More

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