Sunday, February 7, 2010

Knowing when to stop talking

Albert Einstein (1879-1955) was well known in the science world for his work in physics, specifically in the work of relativity. He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics.

So, I am sure most of you are asking why I would be writing a blog about Albert Einstein. He has been given credit for the following quote:

“If A equals success, then the formula is: A=X+Y+Z. X is work. Y is play. Z is keep your mouth shut.”

Most of us have a problem with Z. The pattern is to open our mouth and speak. We have it in the wrong order and we're usually missing a step.

1) Think first - A business executive was visiting Memphis giving a presentation to FedEx employees. He sent out a "Tweet" lamenting about the conditions of the part of the city around the Memphis airport. "True confession: but I'm in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say "I would die if I had to live here!" I am sure he had no intention of that word getting out so quickly and eventually making it back to FedEx management. Well, you guessed it, it did. And it ruffled the feathers of most of the folks attending his presentation. Needless to say, it didn't go over well.

2) Open your mouth - Speak clearly. Slang words, rushed communication or certain catch phrases/cliches don't always come across the same to every listener. It's probably a great idea to be educated about your product or service before you offer any opinion or information. We're not in control of how someone else interprets our words.

3) Speak last - Often we need to use our ears when we speak. If we engage our ears more to listen to what has already been said and what needs to be said, we might say the right thing more often than not. How many times have we said the first thing that comes to mind when presented with a situation that requires a response? Too many. Instead, when asked a question, ask yourself another question. Do I have all the information I need to answer this question?

In the social media world (Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, blogging, email, etc.) our words are exposed to potentially millions of viewers. Whether in these forums or on-on-one communication we should watch our worlds carefully.

Learn when to stop talking.

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