Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Tue, Oct 10 2006

There isn't much private in public or anywhere else these days

We've all heard really wild conversations in an office or other place of business. But now we should be careful. There are people willing to report what they Overhead in the Office.

Repeating office gossip has its down side, particularly when people aren't careful about what they say and how loudly they say it. I've heard people talking on their cell phones in public places who apparently gave no thought to the fact that they were discussing company issues that may have been better left behind office doors. Some employees will sit in a restaurant (and rant in the company of other diners) and rattle off names, times and places and forget that they may go, or at least try to go, to a new job down the line. You never know who could be sitting nearby, and as loudly as some folks speak, a listener wouldn't have to strain to hear a lot of things.

If I was a potential employer hearing this sort of conversation in a public place I would think twice before hiring someone with such a loose tongue. You may think you're in too large a city for the things you say to get you into trouble, but everyone you know, knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows you. If you wouldn't say it for all the world to hear, maybe you shouldn't say it at a restaurant, on a cell phone, on voice mail or in email or instant messages. The truth is that none of these instances offers us very much privacy.

Aside from the whole principle of the Golden Rule there is a very practical side to all this. When we feel compelled to speak of certain things we need to remember that it could lead to our own downfall if we elect to take verbal behind-the-back shots at people who aren't there looking into our eyes at that moment.

It isn't only office gossip that can get you into trouble. Your general attitude and treatment of other people on the job can come back to bite you years later. Someone I know was able to block the hiring of a potential manager when he was asked about their character because he had worked in the person's department at a previous company. He simply told the one doing the hiring that if they chose to hire the potential manager he would quit. The potential manager's treatment of other people had followed him in the worst way, and the working world is a much smaller world than one might think. That woman or man you make fun of or rudely confront all the time may choose to stop you from doing so at another place in another time.

I haven't said much about the current madness concerning the matter of Representative Mark Foley's communication with young pages. This is mainly due to the fact that I haven't taken time to catch up on the details of this issue. I do however, have a general opinion on the matter of elected officials using taxpayer money to have sexual escapades—or any other kind of escapade (or covering up such an escapade, if that happens). When a hotel manager, a horse trainer or a taxi driver has an escapade it may be a moral issue. However, it probably isn't my place to point out their bad behavior unless I've been personally affected by it. But when a teacher, a military officer or an elected politician chooses to have an escapade it's definitely appropriate to make statements about it, because these individuals make their wages off taxpayer money. They have an obligation to respect that fact and to conduct themselves accordingly. If that's a problem, they should confront their own misuse of taxpayer money and then go to work in the private sector.



posted at: 11:33 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry



Flickr, not Flicker

My apoligies to the folks at Flickr, whose name I inadvertently misspelled in yesterday's post. There are some days when having an inner child act as a spell checker is a huge hindrance.

posted at: 11:32 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry



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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!