This seems to be very blatant, obvious advice, yet I think it’s advice we can all heed – both in it’s specifics and in it’s overall concept: to make sure we’re fully focused when we communicate with others, put things in writing, and send them out through cyberspace.
When you’re out drinking, when your filters may be a bit less engaged, it is NOT the time to answer emails, or IMs, or even phone calls, of a work-related nature. You may feel charged to get one last thing done, or inspired with a pithy response or brilliant idea, but it is easy to say or type the wrong thing, dash off a nasty-gram, or use inappropriate humor when we are not really focused on our best communication.
Of course this advice goes beyond happy hour. It’s important to think of all the other times our communication may not be at its best, or our filters – as to what to say, what not to say, and how to say it – are less active. When we’re with friends, drinking or not. When we’re in an awful mood. When we’re stuck in traffic and fuming. When we’ve just had a heated conversation with someone, especially someone we care about. When we’re frustrated with (or at) the person who wants to connect with us. When we’re tired, or angry, or hungry, or bored. In all these times we are likely to be “communication-challenged” and merely opening our mouth (or typing with our thumbs) is likely to get us in trouble. I challenge you to think through when and how you’re communicating…and make sure it’s the right time to do so and you’re in the right frame of mind.
There are times to communicate, and times to not. There are ways to communicate, and ways to not. (Check out our Communication Checklist for a few suggestions on successful ways to communicate.) It is important to engage our filters, even when our filters are completely disengaged – so that we can avoid answering that one last email when we’re not thinking at our best.