One of my boys told me about a girl in his second grade class.
“Emily is mean.”
“How is she mean?”
“She keeps telling the teacher about me. Some of it is not even true.”
“Don’t worry about her, son. She’ll get hers.”
“What do you mean?”
“Snitches get stitches. Snitches get stitches...”
If there is one lesson to be passed on, it is to never gossip or speak poorly about others behind their backs. As Stephen Covey said, “Always speak about others as if they were present”.
Some people think it’s fun or builds relationships to tell “secrets” or talk about others. Talking about others behind their backs actually does the opposite and decreases trust in you. After all, you've shown that you have loose lips and could easily do the same with them.
Sooner or later, what goes around comes around. People will find out what you said about them. Sometimes, it may be unintentional. A colleague once told me that he trusted Bob (not his real name) “as far as he could throw him”. I didn’t understand that phrase in my younger, more innocent (naive) days. My colleague was a very big guy compared to Bob so I reckoned that he could toss Bob a fair distance. I took that as compliment about Bob. I later made a comment to Bob that “(so-and-so) spoke very highly of you. He said that he trusted you as far as he could throw you.” Bob didn’t say anything. I repeated that to a few others until someone mercifully enlightened me to the real meaning of the phrase.
We teach children not to tattletale but forget about doing that as adults. It's difficult because we all love sharing things at the water cooler. "She got married?" "I heard that they had to." An entire industry caters to gossip on TV and other media.
Remember the saying, “If you have nothing nice to say about someone, don’t say anything”. Simply do not talk about other people behind their backs. In business and life, you don’t win by talking bad about a competitor or others. You don’t raise yourself you by talking someone else down. So always speak about others as if they were present.
And Emily, if you are reading this..."snitches get stitches".
Frank Lio is a Product Manager, Strategist, and Change Agent in the Hi-Tech industry. His growing track record of successes include creating 3 winning software products, leading nationwide seminars, and turning around a failing business unit. He is currently serving a dual role as Product Manager and Business Team Support Manager at Instron ITW.
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