If you watch, read or listen to the news these days, you know that people are being vilified (sometimes rightly so and sometimes blown way out of context) for saying something out loud. It actually made the news when a US political candidate asked how to eat fried chicken recently. Taking someone’s speaking as a soundbite or out of context can completely alter the meaning (and the intention). And this happens every day.

So, if you are a leader (or want to be), here are some simple rules for talking out loud – whether that’s public speaking, or talking to the cashier at the grocery store, or with good friends and family (I’m sorry – I don’t have any rules for how one goes about asking how to eat fried chicken). These are simple and basic. Never publicly:

  • Shame or criticize people
  • Denigrate your people or your company
  • Blame others (for anything)

Also – if you are already known as a leader, it is not a great idea to think out loud or speculate out loud when you’re in public. Unfortunately, too many people will take your words as gospel — even though you only intended to speculate, or wonder, or consider, or question…

If you are leader, these days the only place you should consider that you are having a private conversation is when you are with your executive coach, your minister, your therapist, and/or your spouse.