This week’s question: From the Panama Papers to the DNC, our emails may not be for our eyes only anymore. How careful are you about what you put in writing? Do you ever think: How would this look to the outside world?
Yes. As a physician, my profession is restricted by HIPAA and other codes of ethics as to what can be placed in writing and what may not. Therefore, I have been trained to use restraint in all writings and to assume much of what I put in writing may be available to the public, and in particular to my patients, who are my priority. Over the years, I have adopted that circumspection to my personal and non-medical business correspondence as well.
Alejandro Badia, orthopedic surgeon and founder, OrthoNOW
As an attorney, I learned early on in my career the importance of always being careful about what I put in writing. The need for caution in this area has only become more magnified in the age of emails and social media. While my client communication is protected by lawyer-client privilege, as a general practice I do not put anything in writing that would be potentially embarrassing or problematic if it became public.
Hilarie Bass, co-president, Greenberg Traurig
Current events dictate that there is no such thing as privacy anymore. Even deleted files are never really deleted. Social media posts live in perpetuity — even after you die! You should always be very careful. If something is particularly sensitive, I will often pick up the phone — an archaic custom of the 20th century — and make a phone call.
Peggy Benua, general manager, Dream South Beach
In our work with The Underline we often communicate with the staff and elected officials in the public sector so our communication is always public record. Coming from the private sector, this gave me pause. Then I realized that our project is a public/private partnership and that everything we do and say must be 100 percent transparent, especially since we have nothing to hide. So now I have no problem with others seeing what we write.
Meg Daly, president and CEO, Friends of The Underline
Anything I put in writing, I will say publicly. That is who I am, and because of who/what I live for, that is what I must be. I do think about how my behavior might be viewed by the outside world — that’s human. But the guiding principle for me is “what would my mother think!” and that’s with an exclamation point, not a question mark.
T. Willard Fair, president and CEO, Urban League of Greater Miami
Anytime you write something, you should ask yourself how it will be perceived by others. The written word is powerful and lasting. As such, writing provides an opportunity to portray yourself in a positive light or show a darker side. Know that what you write will be used to represent you in many scenarios including work, relationships, court proceedings and other situations long after written. I strive to be honest, factual and respectful, and this has always served me well.
Vicky Garrigo, market head, U.S. Southeastern Region Private Banking, HSBC Bank
First, it is very important to remember that no email is truly private as any digital communication can be widely distributed without your consent. It doesn’t take a hacker to forward an email. I always write emails as if they may be seen by the masses. I have chosen to be both formal and cordial in my communications because it is just too simple for someone to forward and share emails without your approval — or even your knowledge. I believe that how we write and communicate is a reflection of who we are, and I constantly try to improve my skills. Lastly, I don’t believe in using email as a medium for arguing or dispute resolution. When in doubt, pick up the phone or meet with people in person. Even though technology makes it easier for us to communicate, it hasn’t necessarily made us better communicators; so we need to constantly monitor ourselves.
Mario Murgado, president and CEO, Brickell Motors
With all of my responses, whether written or verbal, I believe the simple approach of thinking before answering is of significant importance. Visceral or impulsive responses are dangerous, and may lead to problems, especially in our age of technology. Additionally, it is crucial to factor the way a written response may be interpreted differently from a verbal conversation — with the advent of quick and numerous emails, responses may be cursory and misleading if not composed with measured thought.
Steve Perricone, president and owner, Perricone’s Restaurant
While I am not perfectly living by this philosophy, I try to only write and say that which I would be happy for everyone to hear or read. This is not so much out of concern for being hacked but rather a good way to live life. If we treat even our thoughts as if everyone hears them, we are functioning on a higher level.
Craig Robins, president and CEO, Dacra
It really doesn’t cross my mind. I don’t alter what I put in writing out of concern for the “outside world.” If the outside world sees something I write, at least they’ll know it’s genuine.
David Samson, president, Miami Marlins
In any communication, my focus is on whether the information I’m sharing provides a benefit to our customers, our investors or our employees. I worry much less about perception than action. At the same time, I think we all must acknowledge that our emails are not as private as we might have once thought, and not just because of leaks or email hacks. Many companies, including FPL, monitor and retain electronic communication for security reasons, business purposes or because they are required to by law.
Eric Silagy, president and CEO, Florida Power & Light
As a wise sage on Twitter recently said, “Dance like no one is watching, email like it’s going to be read aloud in a deposition.”
Rachel Silverstein, executive director, Miami Waterkeeper