What You Should Consider Before Hitting Send

In a day and age of social media, text messages, and emails, leaders must be aware of every typed word. I was reminded of this last week when words I sent to a congresswoman ended up in newspapers, on the internet, and in a letter to a Senate Committee.

via Lars Kristian Flem @ Flickr Creative Commons

via Lars Kristian Flem @ Flickr Creative Commons

In the region I live, it is very common for there to be one newspaper in each town. We also have just one or two radio stations per county. These are the main places our communities still get their news (aside from social media). School administrators, including myself, have always had a good relationship with these media outlets.

When I learned that a bill was up for discussion in our state Senate that could potentially impact our school, I sent a page long email to our newly elected senator. Thankfully, I was intentional with my words.

Out of this page-long discourse, two or three sentences were pulled and included in a letter to the Senate Committee as an endorsement for this bill. I was surprised to see it in that letter and even more surprised when my sound bytes hit the news.

Even though my thoughts were accurately portrayed, I learned one major lesson that day…

“Leaders must take time to review written communication so there is no room for misinterpretation.”

Plenty of administrators have found themselves backpedaling after a misunderstood email, tweet, or post. It just goes to show you that words matter, and often times, your tone can’t be interpreted through the written word. So proceed with caution.

In the end, I was happy to stand behind this senator and her bill. I’m thankful for the friendships we have with the news media. But most of all, I’m thankful that I was able to learn this lesson in a positive situation instead of a negative one.

Question: Do you have any stories where you learned this lesson the hard way? What were the things that stood out to you the most?

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