Events of the last week where Gordon Brown’s comments intended to be private were heard in public (to understate things more than a little) would seem to highlight the dangers of using radio microphones. But they highlight more than that. Are private comments ever really private? A radio mic can make them spectacularly public, but even without a radio mic what we say can be passed around with nearly as damaging, if not so instant, effects. Were we actually surprised by what we heard last week?
We don’t need a blunder with a radio mic for our comments to find their way back to their subject. In life, it’s remarkably like we do have a radio mic on all the time and everybody hears everything we say. How come? Well, for starters, people gossip, even when they say they’ll be discreet. Secondly, our critical attitude comes across in our non-verbal communication and, when we talk critically of someone in private, we’re programming ourselves to ‘leak’ our true feelings through our body language and our voice when we are face-to-face with the person or with others close to them.
Here’s a challenge, and it is a challenge (I know I don’t live up to it all the time, with consequences I regret): Act as if everything you say (or write) is heard by everybody. It’s funny how life is really like that. The only way to be sure we keep our relationships good is to assume anything we say will find its way back to the subject of our comments. Sure, it’s a relief sometimes to sound off about someone ‘in private’, but it can be expensive in the long run, when our comments spread through the ether.
I’m setting out to remember my virtual ‘radio mic’ is on. Will you remember about yours?