After more than two decades in the Executive Search
business, I have learned a lot about what goes into a
successful hire. I try to impart my knowledge to both hiring
managers and candidates. Nevertheless, at many job
interviews I find myself listening to questions that make me
cringe and answers that make me want to cry.
Now it's my turn to talk.

Monday, July 9, 2012

"DON'T PUT IT IN WRITING," wrote the blogger

Many years ago, as my wife taught our two daughters about being “young ladies,” I taught them the Bob Ward principles of life.  One of these principles is “Life isn’t fair,” a simple truth about reality, which also conveniently served the purpose of shutting down the argument, “That’s not fair, Dad!” 

As they grew older, I taught them another piece of the Bob Ward doctrine. “Don’t put it in writing.” 

And today, I am sharing this same piece of advice with you.  When it comes to office communication, unless it is 100% work-related and without emotional nuance of any kind, DON’T PUT IT IN WRITING. 

In these days where e-mailing and texting have almost replaced the spoken word and the fingers do the talking, the temptation to communicate everything immediately and via “message” can be almost overwhelming. 

So when your boss says or emails something really nuts, you might be tempted to LOL about it with the co-worker two offices down. Or you might want to respond to your superior’s nasty-sounding e-mail with a scathing response composed in 12 seconds flat (IN ALL CAPS for emphasis).  I suggest you don’t. 

Similarly, if you are worried, stressed out, tired, insecure, angry, depressed or anything else that resembles emotion of any kind, you may feel the need to vent, but choose the vocal cords over the fingers and thumbs. (And choose out-of-the-office locations, as well.)

In each of the above cases, I suggest that an actual conversation has a serious advantage over a “message.”  Spoken words can be said and forgotten, or adjusted based upon the facial response and tone of the listener.  But regrettable e-mails can form a dangerous e-trail straight to your computer and just may land in your personnel file where they remain in perpetuity.

So, before you compose that next angry or emotional message, slow down and take time to think about four little words:  SAVE, FORWARD, and REPLY-ALL.

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