17 September 2013
Loose Lips Sink Ships
In the age of information overload, word of mouth can be your
best friend or your worst enemy. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can write a
professional spiel and place it on a website, but what does good
old Joe Blow from the street have to say and who is he saying it
Companies around the world are struggling daily to contain
sensitive information and to promote positive brand experiences as
well as they manage the negative. Employees fight for or against
their employers brand as well as their own and it's not just your
professional life on the line.
One poor decision in your personal life can be broadcast across
the world so quickly that your transition from Michelle Obama to
Lindsay Lohan can happen faster than you can buy a trench coat and
Isn't the information age grand!
Whether it's your personal brand or your employers reputation on
the line, here are three key ways that loose lips could sink the
ship that you're sailing on:
Even on the tightest of security
settings and smallest of friend lists you have to assume that
anything you post online is freely accessible to anyone who wants
to see it badly enough.
The critical part of this equation
is that if you speak with authority, people may believe you to have
authority to speak on the topic.
Any mud you throw at the company you
are employed by will most definitely stick and in the majority of
cases, some of it will stick to you as well. No one stays clean in
a mud fight.
If you consider Reader's Digest just
too long of a read then you may be one of the many suffering from
half story-itis. This debilitating condition leads the patient to
believe they have a full understanding of any situation after
reading the headlines. There's a formula you can apply to these
situations to see if you have half the story or closer to 90% (No
one has 100%):
- Borrow a 6 year old and sit them down in front of you
- Explain the situation
- If you make it past their 14th "But Why?!?" then
perhaps you have the full story.
Half story-itis it particularly
debilitating when mixed with talk of company performance and
motivations in decision making. A company or an individual can be
brought down by talk alone. Be sure you have the full story before
you make statements.
Mr (or Mrs) Know it all -
But shouldn't be talking about it
It's inevitable that you will come
across one of these at every social event that you attend. It's
also inevitable that at some point in your life you will
inadvertently become this person and spend the next week cringing
into your coffee. At some point in every person's life they've been
so involved in a topic of conversation that they've shared
information that wasn't really theirs to share.
Particularly critical where
confidentiality is involved, either the kind signed in blood on
your employment contract or the confidence of your best friend who
sincerely regrets wearing the lampshade on their head last week.
Knowledge is powerful and can be wielded like a weapon. Use it
Whether guarding your own reputation or that of the company that
pays the bills, it's important to keep an ear out for loose lips in
the area. The people who could be damaging your brand may never
have met you or they may be standing right beside you. Your role is
simply to guard what passes through your own lips and encourage the
people around you to do the same.