Friday, May 1, 2009

Should we still think before we talk?

My parents always told me to think before I spoke. Eventually it sunk in. But I’m wondering if that advice still applies in the age of Twitter and blogging. Montaigne spent two decades writing and revising his 107 essays. At the rate I’m going, I’ll have surpassed him in quantity (although never in quality) by the end of June. And I’m only one of millions (tens of millions? hundreds of millions?) of bloggers. Maybe quantity is the new quality?

I remember a conversation I had with a client more than a decade ago when I was still in the private practice of law. She called me:

“I don’t like the way you talk to me!”

I replied, “I’m sorry. What is it you don’t like?”

“You talk too slowly. It’s like you are thinking before you answer.”

Recognizing a lost cause, I immediately talked to another partner at the firm and we assigned the client another lawyer who talked faster and didn’t think so much.

At the time I just thought it was another personal eccentricity (assuming most people would prefer a lawyer who thought before he spoke), but now I wonder if she wasn’t just ahead of her time and I behind mine.

I thought this especially this morning when I read a statement by an Israeli official this morning complaining that calling the disease the “Swine Flu” was insulting to Jews and Muslims, and suggesting that we call the disease the “Mexican Flu” instead.

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