Think Before You Blurt

We live in a “tell it like it is culture” where politicians and business leaders alike blurt out their opinions without thought of the consequences. They just seem to open their mouths and let the wind rattle their tongues.

Such a lack of impulse control by many may be “oxygen” to some news outlets but can have negative consequences in the worlds of organizational leadership and friendship.

As Warren Buffet was reported to have said “It takes 20 years to build a reputation. Five minutes to ruin it.”

To counter this tendency to blurt out stuff we may later regret saying some have set up their own firewall.

I knew of a CEO who programed a 3-minute delay on his email send button. Hence the “on second thoughts I should not have sent that” rarely happens to him.

Next to self-awareness, self-regulation is the second foundation stone of emotional intelligence. The old “count ten” before you speak or “would you want this published on the front page of the NY Times?” is really a sign of self-control and leadership maturity.

I rarely tell people sitting next to me on the plane that I am a psychologist. On the long trip to London one time I told someone that I was a psychologist. What I got was a long tale of woe. I wished I’d said, “I’m from the IRS”  Maybe it would have secured some privacy.

Self-disclosure has its place. I wrote about this in another posting. (

But blurting out without being conscious of the needs of one’s audience, examining the consequence of uncensored confessions, being careful about the dangers of not keeping confidences, and practicing self-indulgent “dumping” does not recognize that blurting has no place in the repertoire of  mature and effective people.

Awareness of what it takes for us to drop our guard and blurt include;

*  Mindfulness of what our hot-button issues are e.g unfair criticism

*  Knowing when we are most vulnerable to blurting e.g. exhaustion

What effective strategies have you adopted to regulate uncensored speech?




About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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2 Responses to Think Before You Blurt

  1. studiomarie says:

    Love your blog. Always insightful.

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