“Better to trip with the feet than with the tongue.”
The new storytelling features found in social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Anchor make it easier than ever for our employees to broadcast their spoken words. E&C professionals have always cautioned employees to watch their language in hallways and meeting rooms. We now have a new frontier.
Growing up in Quebec, I often heard this French saying: “The wise turns his tongue seven times in his mouth before speaking.” It makes me wonder if the record button on Instagram Stories should have a 7-second countdown before activating the camera.
The ease with which we can now broadcast our thoughts on video reminds me of the early days of “electronic mail”. Employees got into all kinds of trouble – and still do – because it had never been easier to send written words without paper. During training, for effect, I would tell them “Don’t use email.” They would give me funny looks as I let the silence hang in the room for a few seconds. I would then admit that I didn’t really mean that but recommended that they only write emails that could be seen by the CEO or printed in the newspaper the next day.
Which reminds me of another saying I read somewhere: “Don’t write if you can talk. Don’t talk if you can nod. Don’t nod if you can wink.”
I’m not advocating for an end to communication. I’m simply noticing how much more important it now is to pause before we speak.