Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Don't have these 4 Association Conversations in Public

Why do business people risk private conversations in public settings?

Taking the morning off, I had breakfast by myself at a restaurant. I was a forgettable presence in my jeans, fleece, Oprah magazine and reading glasses.

In walked two people who were seated at a table next to me, who I knew, but they did not know me. And it was a job interview. Clearly they must have thought that I was disinterested in what they had to say, along with others there, because the conversation was happening as if it was private. In the middle of a restaurant. Could I do damage with the information from that discussion? Could others?

A few weeks ago a very annoying executive spent close to 30 minutes going over his entire strategy for a case that was happening, while we both waited for our cars to be repaired. I was trying to work and he was loud and arrogant. He was blatantly unconcerned about the fact that my blackberry could have taped his conversation, and he had no way of knowing if I was an attorney for the other side of the situation. Did I know who he was when his car was ready and his name was called?

For as much is said about revealing too much online, there is way too much revealed by having private conversations in very public settings. If you underestimate those sitting near you, it's possible the one who hopes the conversation is confidential may find it wasn't.

Here are 4 association conversations that should not be done in a restaurant or other public location: (includes conversation on cell phone in public location)

1. A job interview
2. An employee evaluation
3. Legal strategy
4. Legislative strategy

Others present are likely under no obligation to keep your public discussion private. If there is someone sitting a few feet away from you, it's not private.

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