Updated July 2023

Yesterday I sat in front of a woman who was kvetching to a colleague about the situation at her office -- at normal speaking volume. She mentioned her own first name, the company's name and then started talking about missed new product delivery targets, a co-worker's performance and how the CEO wanted her to fire half her team, both of those people also named. I was bored. I looked the woman up on LinkedIn, found her co-worker and her team. Did I mention this is a major publicly traded company?

The former business reporter in me wanted to be taking notes. The former VP of comms in me was horrified. This is the kind of stuff that keeps PR leaders up at night. She was relaying information that was newsworthy. If a journalist or industry/financial analyst had been within earshot, they would have had some good intel delivered by a self-identified source. This was B-A-D.

The Word Factory's Margot Lester shushing

Use this post as a reminder to yourself to be mindful of where you're airing your dirty laundry. And perhaps as motivation to remind your staff members to do the same.

When the flight was over, I introduced myself and advised her to be more cautious about talking about personnel matters and growth strategy in public. She looked mortified, scared and maybe a bit grateful.