My goal for this blog has always been to share life, coaching, and even classroom experiences to help make a positive difference in the lives of others. This week we’re going to discuss what is becoming a more pressing issue in society today, and provide a valuable lesson for people of all ages. Have you ever been so fired up at someone that you as far to write them a mean email or nasty comment on social media? Please, do yourself a favor…wait, don’t hit send.
Have you ever been a red light and looked over to see what the person in the car next to you is doing? Isn’t it funny to watch them sing, dance, or even pick their nose?! We as people have this weird and almost innate ability to think others can’t see what we’re doing. Let me relate this to social media. Just because we type something on a keyboard or phone screen doesn’t mean people don’t know who’s behind the words. Some of the negative and inflammatory remarks people post, only to regret later, is really quite stunning. It’s as if we don’t think what we say online really has any consequence because it’s not being done in person. So many of us get caught up the moment with our anger or frustration that we soon regret what we’ve sent out. Let me provide a personal example.
Over five years ago I was involved in a work related email dispute with a couple of fellow coaches. There was a difference of opinion on a particular topic and emails were exchanged. All parties involved, myself included, let our emotions take control. Tempers got heated and things were tense for a while afterward because of how we all handled communication through email. Ultimately, we worked things out and all parties have great relationships now. However, I learned two very important lessons from that incident which all could benefit from. The first is don’t try too hard to read intent on something electronically communicated. Too often the true meaning of what a person is trying to communicate gets misinterpreted and ignites tensions. The second is the 24 hour rule. This is simple; if you have something to communicate that is sensitive or concerning a hot topic issue, wait a full day before hitting send. Let your emotions die down, think things through, and then send whatever it is you have to say. More often than not, the second communication will be much tamer than the first.
President Abraham Lincoln is one of the greatest communicators ever hold a leadership role. This is a skill that took him time to develop. He once wrote a scathing letter to one of his rivals early in his political career. Upon receiving this letter, his rival was so angry that he challenged Lincoln to a duel. This incident forever changed how Lincoln communicated with others, especially when high emotions were involved. Lincoln continued the practice of writing letters to friends, family, cabinet members, generals, and rivals when angered. However, he did not send them. He would either tuck the letter into a desk somewhere or burn it after completing it. The next day Lincoln would write a much more pleasant and composed letter. We can take away two lessons from Lincoln here. First, it’s good to vent your anger. Write your thoughts and feelings down, but don’t send them. Delete the draft. Secondly, wait until the next day when your thoughts are more rational to send out.
Too many people in today’s world think that being behind a screen provides anonymity when leaving heated remarks. It doesn’t. I wish I would have understood this earlier in my career but I am glad I was able to learn two valuable lessons from it. My hope is that any high school, college, or young professional out there who reads this realizes you shouldn’t just type what you feel at that moment and hit send. Facebook would be so much more enjoyable if people adopted this practice. The world would be a better place.
So the next time you’re angry at a loved one, colleague, or rival, do yourself a favor and wait…don’t hit send.
Do you have a personal experience regarding this matter? I’d love to hear about it and the lessons learned from it.
As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!