How often have we said this to ourselves and discovered unintended consequences? As leaders, we know that others are always watching what we do and listening and reacting to what we say. And, when we are with our office staff, in the factory or the field, most of us are conscious of what we say and how we show up.

I wonder though, if we have this same awareness as leaders when we are with our leadership team. Or, for that matter, when we, as members of the leadership team, are with our bosses and our colleagues. You may be thinking (silently?) so, are you saying I want to be aware of what I am saying all the time? Yikes!!

My sense is the answer is yes. When we think out loud, sometimes we create expectations, alarm, or even actions that we did not intend. Recently, one of my clients shared this story: “I was sitting in my office with my VP of Operations, I was thinking out loud, wondering what we needed to do next to get to the growth goals I have. I was going on and on about my frustrations and concerns. The next day, he came back to my office and asked me if I was planning to sell the company. He apparently had gone home and thought about what I had said all night.

In my own experience, when I have the presence to say, “May I think out loud for a moment?” or “Can I just vent for a moment?” that frames the conversation. And sometimes, this pausing reminds me that it is best to ‘zip it.’

What has been your experience?

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