In case you missed it, last week rockstar Courtney Love agreed to pay $430,000 to fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir for defaming Simorangkir in a series of Tweets. The settlement ends a feud that began in 2009 over a $4,000 payment for clothing. Yes, Love’s celebrity status definitely upped the ante and damaged someone’s reputation more than you or I could. Still, there are a few lessons for all of us.
- Don’t get ugly online. I used to remind people to never write an email when they are angry. Now, that extends to Tweets, blogs, Facebook posts, etc. Unlike Love, you probably (or hopefully) wouldn’t send an email calling a co-worker an “a–wipe nasty lying hosebag thief,” but you should also watch the tone of your emails or online communications. Don’t get emotional. Stick to the facts. Never get personal. Cool off if you need to before you get behind the keyboard.
- Assume everything gets forwarded. Electronic communications have a life of their own. Assume anything you write, post, or say in a voicemail will be forwarded well beyond your intended audience. If every email you sent was received by your boss or everyone in the company would that change your content or tone?
- Vent privately, offline, and only with someone you trust. We all need to get things off our chest from time to time. Do it when you are disconnected and with a person (not persons) you trust. Don’t be surprised if your rant on Facebook about your ungrateful boss, poking at your lazy teammates on Twitter, or slamming your employer “anonymously” in an online forum can always find its way back to you.
Finally, remember that all so-called personal communication can be public. Forgetting this fact can cost you.