People forget that when they are on social media or on the air it's not a private conversation

The Art and Science of Public Sharing and Communicating in Our Digital and Very Audible World

You do realize we can all hear what you’re saying? Right?

For example, last week, I left my house at dawn to head to a conference a few states away. I tuned into a local talk radio station. The oh-too-perky hosts announced that they were taking questions about:

The first caller, a young husband, shared that his wife was expecting their first child, that she was in the early stages of her pregnancy, and that she had asked him not to tell anyone yet. He was confused by her request to keep this news confidential. How could she change in so many ways in such a short time, he wondered? Then he asked, “Why can’t I tell anyone? It’s my baby too.” The hosts, to their credit, listened respectfully. They provided him with some helpful suggestions about things he could do to support his wife and why she might feel this way. They didn’t judge him or make fun of him.

I, on the other hand, had a different reaction. As soon as I heard the words “My wife doesn’t want me to tell anyone,” I felt my eyebrows shooting over my forehead, and my eyes widening as I blurted out, “Dude, you’re sharing this information on a public radio station! You are so done! What made you think that calling into the station was a good idea?! Good luck, buddy. You are going to need it. God help your poor wife.”

As you might guess, I didn’t need to stop for coffee to wake me up after my outburst. As I drove, that man’s call gave me lots to think about regarding how we use public platforms — from radio to Twitter — and the impact that what we broadcast has on others. So, before you speak, consider:

  1. Internalizing “checks and balances” before speaking and posting on public platforms
  2. Knowing your “why.” Why am I sharing this information? Who will I impact with my statement?
  3. Questioning if your urge to “talk out loud” and “share” would benefit from time and distance?
  4. Pausing to gain a fresh perspective
  5. Wondering if you should present your thoughts in a private conversation or call
  6. Most importantly, ask if you are using a public platform to share private information?

We have gotten so used to being visible and audible. So, we tend to forget that it’s easy to forget that when we record or hit send, someone is listening, and we are not alone. Ever!

If you are interested in learning more about how our Digital Age impacts us, check out one of my favorite books on this topic, “Reclaiming Conversation — The Power of Talk in a Digital Age” by Sherry Turkle, Ph.D. The Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT. Her book has research that addresses compelling issues regarding technology and communication.

Julienne B. Ryan is a certified AccuMatch BI coach and the author of “The Learned-It-In-Queens Communications Playbook — Winning Against Digital Distraction” and an applied, narrative storyteller, speaker, trainer, and coach. She believes in the power of listening and is on a mission to improve how we communicate with each other, one authentic conversation at a time. Click on this link to learn about her services.