When I was 5 my neighbor Mike was being mean to me.
In order to get back at him, I said in my sternest Olive Oyl voice: "You. . .you. . you . . .BRUTE!"
"Shut up Big Mouth" was his reply.
My mother heard us fussing and told me to be kind to Mike.
"Shut up Big Mouth" was my reply. (Hey -- it worked for Mike).
Of course, I got a spanking. A spanking I remember 40 years later. Don't ever tell my mom to shut up. Also, don't call her a bitch. . .but that's a story from the teen files.
Here's the thing. Mike was right.
I am a Big Mouth.
I have no inner filter. If it comes in my head, I say it.
I am the person who says what everyone else is thinking but has the good sense to keep it to themselves.
When my leadership group used a cartoon of 6 kids in a spaceship as a "symbol" of our team, I pointed to the redhead & said "This is me". I pointed to the cute black girl & said "This one is [Black friend's name]!". Everyone else looked embarrassed. I don't know why they were embarrassed. [Black friend] knows she's black. She also knows she's cute.
I guess it wasn't polite.
Yesterday I was at a "town hall" meeting of sorts. The goal of the meeting was to openly discuss issues at work. The meeting was run by the President of the College. The President of the College is the most awesomest awesome guy in the world next to Greg A. I love this guy like a brother. He is an incredible friend and leader and mentor.
He also has had a really tough year. If you've read the newspapers at all last year, you know that FY 2010/2011 was a tough year for higher ed. It was a horrible year, but at least we had him at the helm. He made the hard decisions that needed to be made. He protected the staff as much as he could. When someone needed to take the fire, he took it.
The last thing I want to do is make his life harder.
The meeting was attended by lots of people. All of them care about our organization. Some of them don't like the decisions that have been made. They haven't been shy about venting their spleens via the organization-wide e-mail system. They have a right to make themselves heard. Open and candid discussion is important. I truly believe this.
I also believe that words are powerful and that the words one chooses to use have an impact.
In other words, there is a way to complain without whining.
Unfortunately, group e-mails at our organization tend to be less about constructive criticism and more about anger.
When I mentioned something along those lines in the town hall meeting, I should have chosen my words more carefully.
Or maybe I should have just kept it to myself.
I'm sorry Dr. E! I didn't mean to open the can of worms. I didn't mean to make things harder on you.
I'm such a Big Mouth.