I was attending a non-profit organization’s volunteer meeting last night. This group gets funding from a government agency whose representative made an opening statement last night that should really be taken to heart by many who often make this obvious, yet all too common, terrible business mistake. For clarity’s sake, I will paraphrase the lesson, and then go into what was said and why it was said.
The paraphrase is: “Be careful what you say in emails.”
What was said, “There has been a lot of negativity in the emails back and forth on this upcoming project…many seem to think we are the enemy, but the truth is, we aren’t AND you need us to fund your project.”
My long-time experience with sending emails and seeing the repercussions of poorly-worded/tactless emails made me sit there and silently agreement with this man. He had the grace and tact to word it in such a way as to not make it look like the friendly warning it was, and while I applaud him for his decorum, at the same time I feel sorry for him.
He is fighting an uphill battle against the anger ineffective government has engendered in today’s common people. Whether he or his department is guilty of the all too common funding shenanigans that run rampant in any City Hall, he is still a victim of it, as were the upset constituent, you and I. There is a time and a place for such ventings of one’s anger at officials or the “system”, BUT it is never at a volunteer meeting, or on an email list going to the very people one is accusing. I guess this must be a lesson learned, and not common sense, and of course, when tempers run high, ALL sense and common sense go flying out the window and back into the mouth of the horse who just said it (hence the title of this piece).
What amazed me is the fact that as soon as this official said this, someone spoke up right away (gee, I wonder who sent the email?) and added to the fire by reiterating what was in the emails. Gee, he wasn’t listening, was he? In this day and age in the United States/California, expecting government to have tons of money to throw at small, community projects when their budget is getting cut and their staff is let go is positively ludicrous. But I digress…
…back to the main point, at least in this blog. If you are in business, and I will capitalize this for emphasis, RE-READ THAT EMAIL BEFORE YOU SEND IT! Would you tell that person this to their face if you were face-to-face? I look at words spoke like pointing a gun – if you are going to point it, say it, email it, YOU BETTER BE PREPARED TO USE, DEFEND AND LIVE WITH THE CONSEQUENCES OF THAT HURLED VERBAL BULLET!!!
Don’t burn your business bridges because you couldn’t keep your mouth shut long enough to rethink that stupid, thoughtless, antagonistic comment you felt it was your God-given right to say. Sure, you have a right to say anything you want, but if it hurts someone else or your business for future, potential business, you better think twice or be prepared to live with the consequences of fewer friends in life and less business.