If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all

My late mother gave me this advice many years ago when it came to gossip: “If you have nothing nice to say about someone, say nothing at all.” Wise words. I imagine many of you will have heard the same advice growing up. These words are even more important today, as we live in a connected digital world where almost nothing is private anymore. 

The hacking of Sony has received world-wide attention for many reasons, one of which is that it released many personal compromising email communications of Sony employees and their high profile clients. This could have dramatic negative impacts on very one whose personal information was compromised.

Now I want to leave you with something to think about: Could this ever happen to you? The answer is yes. Any email or electronic communication of any kind, including anything you may post on Facebook or any other internet website, could be made public one day. Imagine, something you posted as a joke 5 years ago could cost you a job or a promotion when someone decides to Google your name.If you work for any company, assume that your boss is reading every email that you send, because the company has the right to see what you are doing on their time. Also assume that if you are regulated by any professional standards organization, such as lawyers, doctors and real estate salespeople, that your communication could also be the subject of a complaint made against you.

Remember that anything negative that you post on-line can also severely affect the person or company you are talking about, especially if the comment goes viral. Is this really what you intended?

As we approach the holiday season, here are 5 things to consider as New Year’s resolutions:

1. Never write an email or other electronic communication of any kind when you are angry. That is when you are likely to make a mistake that you will later regret.

2. Do not copy anyone on an email or other electronic communication unless they really need to see it.

3. Use the phone or go speak in person when the matter is sensitive. It is much more effective and personal and you will have the person’s undivided attention.

4. Explain all of this to your children as well. Teenagers can be especially cruel on social media. This can later harm them when they grow up and try to get a job.

5. If you have nothing nice to say, why not just delete it before you send it.

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