Of all the quotes I have read and seen there may not be one out there that resonates with me more than the following quote by Elanor Roosevelt…

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

Raising today’s Thoughts for Friday. What do you say about others when they aren’t around?

Everyday we are fortunate enough to have (ideally) many interactions with others. Friends, family, colleagues, strangers; nonetheless, the opportunity to exchange words and ideas with the hope of gaining knowledge, wisdom, and experience that we can somehow apply to positively influence those in our lives.

While engaging in these vast and varied dialogues, I find more often than not people do become part of, if not the center of discussion. And while Roosevelt’s quote is profound, it isn’t always realistic to spend your time “Ideating.” In a world where we are constantly affected by the decisions of other individuals people will be discussed. The question becomes how do you discuss them?

All to often a conversation leads to a “behind the back” diatribe on the inadequacy of others. Perhaps truly warranted based on the persons actions. However, I suggest that for the sake of your character that you steer away from contributing to such conversations and perhaps even show the courage to challenge such exchanges as they are rarely productive or meaningful in the bigger picture.

Here are four reasons to rise above these negative exchanges…

  1. Transparency: “You believe you see so well through others? What makes you think they can’t see through you? (Unknown) If you engage in these types of exchanges it shows a lot about the person you are. The willingness to sit around and negatively discuss others reveals that you may not have much to add, especially if you are shooting down others thoughts and ideas.

  3. Reciprocity: This one is simple. If you are giving me an earful about someone else, then I can pretty much assume that you will do the same to me when I’m not around. Even if this is untrue, I’m going to struggle to believe otherwise. Wouldn’t you?

  5. Maturity: High School is over, it is time to grow up a bit. If you have an issue with someone that is worth fixing then confront it with the person directly. As people always say, don’t say anything behind someone’s back that you won’t say to their face. <- Heed this advice, it is a good litmus test for future conversations.

  7. Character: Overall, talking about others negatively behind their back shows a lack of character. All the positive public commentary in the world cannot overcome this.

The art of steering away from negatively discussing others is not an easy one. I feel safe in saying that we all engage in it from time to time. Sometimes frustration, disdain, or peer pressure can make it easy to fall into this trap.

What I am recommending is to be cognizant of the behavior and aspire to limit and remove this activity from your life. Focus on worthwhile and constructive negative conversations directly with those you have negative feelings about. If they aren’t worth talking about directly regarding these issues, then it certainly isn’t worth your time.

Take old Mom’s advice (whether she lived it or not) “If you don’t have something good to say about someone, then don’t say it at all,” and then add to the quote “…unless it is to their face”

Your character is critical to your success. Don’t trivialize it by acting like a teenager. It is time we grow up, confront worthwhile problems, and spend our time talking about bigger things.

Be The One….To Rise Above!

Daniel Newman
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Daniel Newman

Founder and President at Broadsuite, Inc.
After 12 years of running technology companies including a CEO appointment at the age of 28, I traded the corner office for a chance to drive the discussion on how the digital economy is going to forever change the way business is done. I'm an MBA, adjunct business professor and 4x author of best-selling business books including "The Millennial CEO" and "The New Rules of Customer Engagement." Pianist, soccer fan, husband and father, not in that order. Oh and for work...I'm the co-founder of V3B [Broadsuite], a marketing firm specializing in the digital space, helping companies be found, seen and heard in a cluttered digital world.
Daniel Newman
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