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November 19, 2009 - Image 38

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-11-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Loose Lips Sink
Ships, Businesses


ecently, a friend told me a
story about an employee
who used the Facebook
wall to boast about working with a
high-ranking executive at a major
corporation in town.
The employee posted the name of
the executive as well as the name of
the company for all of his Facebook
friends to see.
Not surprisingly, these
musings made their way
to the executive suite and
the guy at the top was not
While the employee's
motive was not malicious
and he got off with a ver-
bal warning, he violated
my cardinal rule of com-
munication: Never say
anything to anyone you
don't want someone else
to know. It is a fairly sim-
ple rule; one that is just as
easy to break as it is to follow. Still,
it is a good model for us, especially
when doing business.
As the tools we use to say things
continuously change with the
Internet and the onslaught of social
media tools like Facebook and
Twitter, this message of caution is
more critical than ever. Loose lips
sink ships whether you say some-
thing, send it in electronic mail or
post it on a Facebook wall.

Think First!
Think before you speak. Think twice
before you click send, share or post.
You cannot erase what you say no
matter what means you use to deliv-
er the message.
We all need to be more careful
in what we say and how we say it. I
made a foolish remark to a friend a
few months ago, and I know I hurt
his feelings. I apologized and he gra-
ciously accepted, but I am so embar-
rassed the relationship has suffered.
When it comes to idle chitchat,
clearly some topics are better than
others. Television, movies and sports
are easy topics; politics, religion and
your boss' private life can get you
into trouble. Know your audience.
If you start with the premise that

nothing is supposed to be made
public, keeping your lips zipped
might be easier. Do you want some-
one bragging on line about working
with you? You might, but you might
So don't do it about someone else
unless you're sure you know that the
other person does not care.

Dont Assume!
The employee I mentioned
earlier in this column
assumed his executive
would not care about —
or would not see — the
wall post. It doesn't mat-
ter what the assumption
was, he did care and the
employee's reputation is a
bit tarnished whether he
knows it or not.
Want to stay out of
trouble? Make it your
business to keep work matters at
work and off the Internet. Don't brag
about your client list at networking
events. Do not talk about clients.
In your casual conversations and
in print, "Comerica" for instance
should be called a "major bank."
If you are talking about the Ford
CEO, call him a manufacturing
executive. Just be subtle.
Do not post items about your boss
or your company on the Internet.
I have heard too many stories
about inappropriate conversations
using these tools to repeat them all.

Words Linger
Remember, once the words are out of
your mouth or you hit "send" on the e-
mail, you are no longer in control.
You cannot control how your words
are interpreted or repeated or where
that e-mail or post goes. Someone
once told me words are like stones
— once you throw them out, you can
never take them back. LI

Robert Sher, CPA, is a certified executive

coach. He is former CFO for Schostak

Brothers & Company, Livonia. His e-mail

address is: info@bobsher.com .

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