Sunday, October 3, 2010
One Click Away from Hell
There are those virtual advisers who remind you that what you post on the Internet is there for eternity. I believe they’re right, as I can Google things that happened years ago and still find everything about the instance intact and ready to be reviewed by new audiences.
Did you ever stop and think that you are just one click away from cementing your foot inside your mouth? Lately, I’ve seen a rash of apologies from posters who didn’t realize they were emailing an entire loop, or had clicked on the wrong message to respond. I’ve been a victim and an offender, so I speak with authority.
Imagine you believe you’re having a conversation with a friend about another person who drives you insane. You detail that person’s annoying traits, and add some other not-so-kind remarks because you’re venting. Your email program, in technologies great strides to assist you, picks up on the first three letters of the email address you type in and completes it for you. Unfortunately, you don’t realize what should have gone to Janet has gone to someone you don’t really know. Who the heck is JanC@yahoo.com? You’ll find out when she emails you back and asks why you’ve included her in such a personal conversation about someone she doesn’t know? With heated cheeks you apologize and consider the subject closed, but what if she decides to share you email with her friends, and their friends. Get my drift?
You can disable the tool on email that automatically fills in the address for you, but better yet, stop and read where the post is going. Like I tell my husband when he’s driving and coasts through stop signs…”You need to count to three before you proceed.” If you follow the same advice before clicking the send button, you’re bound to avoid problems you aren’t prepared to face.
Something I’ve made a habit: When I feel the need to rant, I draft an email and let it sit overnight. When I read it in the morning, usually my ire has faded, and I no longer feel the need to be so out-spoken. It’s amazing how time can lower your blood pressure and your tolerance threshold. What you say in an email can’t be taken back. There is no “retrieve” button or “do-overs.”
Benefit of the doubt goes a long way in avoiding public confrontations. If someone says something that you consider insulting, rather than chastise the person publicly, email them privately and share your concerns. I learned a long time ago that the only person you need to confront about a problem is the person with whom you have the problem. Make sense?
And, last but not least. This to my friends on digest: If you are viewing a post from several days ago that addresses an annoying issue, before you respond, read all the messages and you’ll likely find everything has been resolved. Don’t raise a dead horse and beat it all over again. That can of worms doesn’t need opening, the cat doesn’t need to be let out of the bag again, and I’ve run out of clichés but I think you understand.
Caution and good sense go a long way in keeping you and your professional reputation safe. Stop, look, then click. That’s my new motto.