Regardless of the situation, every single time that we speak we have the possibility to say something we might regret. Although it happens to presidential candidates and to CEO’s, most of the time if we misspeak, we do it in a one-on-one situation with family, friends, or business associates. And once we realize we said something out of line or inappropriate in nature, we are fast to fix it and apologize. And with that most matters are settled and forgotten.
Every now and then, especially in a public or leadership role, if we slip and say something in error, it can ricochet across the organization and the nation. If we are on camera, it can go viral in a split second and within minutes it is posted on a multitude of social platforms. More commonly, we might tweet a message to our followers, post a comment on Facebook or Google +, or write a blog article that could be taken for a message completely opposite of what we intended it.
These types of miscommunications can cause damage to our reputations or worse, to our professions and our livelihood. It is a numbers game. The more often we talk or communicate across the media, the more often we can make a mistake with what we say. Oratorical ability is never perfect.
Although the only sure way to eliminate verbal error and unintended message is to remain silent, that is certainly completely impossible. But there are three questions we can ask ourselves before we speak, write, post or tweet. Although it takes a minute to ask these questions internally every time, it slows down what we would say before we would say it or write it. And this method can indeed become habit after a while, virtually ensuring that our personal and professional reputation stays intact for the majority of the time.
- Specific to the Deal: Are we staying on task with the subject that is being discussed. Meandering off tangent can get us into serious trouble.
- Value-Up: Will what we are about to say or write improve the subject or situation?
- Relationship-Driven: After the conversation is done or the post is sent, have we bettered the relationship with the individual or audience?
Sometimes in a speech or a discussion, it is a good thing to slow things down and make sure your message is delivered honestly and with focus.
As Mr. Carnegie wrote so well in his original textbook that became a huge bestseller, ”How to Win Friends and Influence People; “Always make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.”
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