Think before you step in it

You know that uncomfortable feeling when you return home after a long absence? The dust, the musty air, the eerie darkness in the hallway. This is what being back to blogging feels like for a girl overtasked with school, work and trying to live by the rules of a new city.

And speaking of new rules, a while ago, I stumbled on this:

Who does this? If most of us tried to be helpful, honest, inspiring, necessary – and kind, let’s not forget kind – when we talk, we’d be dead or quiet (enlightened people don’t talk much, by the way. Coincidence?).

But this acronym, THINK before you speak, is applicable to us all – and I’m the first to admit it. Everybody puts their foot in their mouth once in a while. We speak to show off or to punish others, we speak because it’s too quiet otherwise, we defend when no offense was dealt.

Many of us blurt something out first, then inspect the damage later. But there comes a time when one can no longer blame alcohol for suggesting a wig to a balding man. Or chalk up a text message to sleep deprivation. Or announce to a foreign acquaintance that their name in Russian means “So you’ve finally taken a shower!” Relationship Building 101: don’t say these things. Just. Stop. Talking. (Yup, I’ve said those things.)

Dale Carnegie’s How to Make Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age teaches one thing: be nice. Treat people as if they’re your friends. Don’t be a tool.

The book gives an example of Abraham Lincoln. It was raining heavily after the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, and Lincoln ordered his general, George Meade, to capture Robert E. Lee and his army, ending the war immediately. However, Lincoln’s general disobeyed. The war dragged on.

Furious, Lincoln wrote an angry letter to General Meade. “Your golden opportunity is gone and I am distressed immeasurably because of it,” it read. The letter was found among his things after he died. He never sent it. Lincoln saw no use in criticizing.

Google, too, knows how people dig themselves into holes so deep, they come out in Mongolia. So four years ago, Google created Mail Goggles. Ever send emails that you later regret? Well, come nighttime, Gmail forces you to do math problems prior to hitting “send.” If you solve them, go ahead, send. If not, water and bed for you, Gmail says.

Avoid knee-jerk reactions and impulsive comments because no amount of backpedaling can repair the damage of your words. All it takes it practice and patience – a whole lot of it, I’m learning. Our personal and professional success depend on whether we think before we step in it.

7 thoughts on “Think before you step in it

    • Ah, the detail-oriented Virgo! So many of us are wont to talk impulsively and regret it later, Cancers included. It’s a very theoretical post with no examples from real life, of course 🙂

  1. anna says:

    wow, good one, masha. this is so important. it’s so hard to be self-reflexive in our age.

    ok, i have to ask – what was the name of that person? “pomylsya”?

  2. Great article and a sound advice. I am very curious though, what are the additions to the Dale Carnegie’s book as pertaining to “the digital age”? Are there new things for communicating online? I remember reading an older , pre-digital age edition (it was actually a hand-typed copy of a russian translation, done on a manual typewriter in the Soviet Era, if you believe), and it was easily one of the more interesting , real-world books that I’ve read.

    • Hello Alex – thanks for stopping by and for your comment. Yes, Carnegie is a true classic in Russia. The new edition encourages people to take the time to keep relationships genuine and positive, online and offline, too. The digital revolution may have changed human habits, but not values. A recommended read!

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