The Porch

Welcome to DORO – Pull Up a Chair

Think About It First

Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” Napoleon Hill

Words can be hazardous to your career health.

Another athlete had to back track and apologize this week. Amani Toomer, former New York Giants wide receiver, wanted to drive a point home about what he considers the heavy-handed tactics of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. During an interview, Toomer said, “I think the way Mr. Goodell has handled this, the way he’s kind of using his power, is like the kind of a Gestapo-type situation, controlling the players, not letting the judicial system do its work.” The word Gestapo ranks as one of the most seriously offensive terms in the dictionary, and tossing it around without knowing its true meaning can only lead to trouble. If he’s looking for a successful outcome and wanting to garner support from fans, speaking this way certainly won’t do the trick.

Certainly, both sides will be angry, frustrated and at times disillusioned with such a detailed, critical negotiation process. But given the long-term impact and everything at stake, it’s even more imperative that those involved be meticulous with their words.

This is a very clear example of a DOOR #3 Moment. DORO works with clients to get that extra level of training that needs to take place after we’ve walked successfully through Door #1(education) and Door #2 (career success.) Each of us will make a mistake based on misinformation; we’re human. The goal is to minimize those errors and better prepare ourselves to be ready when the microphone appears. While what you or I say in a work meeting may not travel around the globe like Toomer’s comment, it can travel up the ranks in the office or your industry. Here are a few tips.

  1. If you’re using a historical reference, know the history.
  2. Take five minutes to write down your most important points before being speaking or responding to situations that anger or frustrate you.
  3. Don’t aim to hurt another person’s reputation if your goal is take issue with their work or strategy. Focus on the work and strategy.

Toomer issued an apology and hopefully he meant it. But in today’s world, the I’m sorrys don’t travel as quickly as the first bad comment. Millions fewer pay attention to the apology story than the lead story headline.

Toomer’s Apology

“Obviously I didn’t fully understand the meaning of what I said. I do now. It was a stupid, inappropriate and offensive thing to say. I apologize for my choice of words, and I apologize to Commissioner Goodell for the offensive characterization.”

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