U.S. Bill of Rights 1st Amendment to the Constitution“But it’s my right!”

“I can say whatever I want, however I want, whenever I want, to whomever I want and nobody can stop me. I have rights!”

“I’m entitled to my opinion and if you don’t like it, then you just need to get over it!”

Sound familiar? If it doesn’t, then you must be accessing this post from a desert island where you’ve been cut off from the rest of civilization for the last 50 years.

Welcome to The Quintessential Leader blog, to the year 2015, and to present reality.

This post will discuss not only what freedom of speech looks like in quintessential leaders, but it will show how quintessential leaders decide what to say or write and what not to say or write.

This is a relevant and important topic especially because it seems where we are most able to determine whether we are quintessential leaders or not today is to look at our speech in cyberspace: emails, texts, social media, and blogs.

We can all talk a good game, but it’s often here where the truth behind all that talk is revealed. 

Quintessential leaders understand, first and foremost, that every word they speak or write is a reflection of who and what they are from the inside out.

In other words, how quintessential leaders exercise their freedom of speech reflects their character.

Therefore, quintessential leaders are very thoughtful before they commit words to speech or in writing.

While quintessential leaders may technically have the right to say or write anything, anywhere, anytime, they always ask the first right question – “Should I?” – right off the bat.

That eliminates a lot of speech and writing before any other analysis needs to be done.

If, however, further analysis needs to be done, quintessential leaders use the overarching principles of building trust and being trustworthy – forged through experience and wisdom – to identify the criteria that their words must be filtered through and determined against before they are said or written.

Quintessential leaders discern the intent of the words they are considering speaking or writingOne of those criteria that quintessential leaders use to determine whether to say or write something is intent.

Is it demeaning or denigrating to other people? Does it contain words like idiotmoronstupidretard?

Those are the most common demeaning and denigrating words used, but there are many others.

If it contains any of these kinds of words, quintessential leaders will reject them from what they speak or what they write or share or endorse.

Is it argumentative? For those of us who have used the internet since it became available to the masses, we remember the term flame wars to describe speech that was intended to be argumentative.

Flame wars were – and still are – started by someone who wants a speech melee and often consists of speech that is so outrageous and offensive that an all-out war ensues. And, once the war starts, nothing is out of bounds, and all the speech goes downhill from there.

Quintessential leaders reject argumentative speech. They will not initiate it, nor will they engage in it. 

Is it inciting? There are many things that divide humanity today and because we, as a species, are all up in arms about “our rights,” there’s an ample supply of inciting topics to speak or write about.

Inciting is the same thing as baiting. It’s a come-hither designed to provoke a strong emotional reaction that will lead to a response in terms of action (usually negative).

The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January 2015 was the result of inciting cartoons the publication repeatedly and intentionally created (and I am in no way defending or sanctioning retribution of this sort or any other: quintessential leaders don’t pay back or get even because that would be inconsistent with their character; instead, they forgive and move away from and move beyond the offenders), knowing what the impact would be.

But look anywhere in the world of technology – emails, texts, social media, and blogs – all over the globe and it abounds everywhere. Look at your newsfeed on Facebook today – July 22, 2015 – and look at all the posts about “rights” that are intentionally inciting that fill your page.

Quintessential leaders reject all speech, written or spoken, that is inciting. It has no place in what they write or say or share or endorse.

Quintessential leaders determine the appropriateness of the words they speak and writeAnother criteria that quintessential leaders use to evaluate the words they speak and write is appropriateness.

There are several aspects of appropriateness that get overlooked in the speech that we write and we speak.

Is it vulgarsuggestive, or profanity-laden? If it is, then quintessential leaders will reject it outright from the words they write and the words they speak.

But here’s a nuance of this that a lot of people simply don’t filter and this really makes quintessential leaders stand out as exceptions. 

While the content itself is not vulgar, suggestive, or profanity-laden, in the case of sharing or endorsing on social media, the site it’s being shared from is. It never ceases to amaze me how much of this happens on a regular basis.

Quintessential leaders look at everything and if there is anything anywhere that is inappropriate, they reject it completely as acceptable speech.

Quintessential leaders analyze the impact of the words they speak and writeA final criteria that quintessential leaders use regarding speech is its impact.

Is it disrespectful? Disrespect is commonplace in our society. Although at times its impact is supposed to be diminished by characterizing disrespect as a joke, in the end it is still disrespect.

There are many ways to disrespect others, but speech that impugns motives not in evidence, that points out personal and private flaws and issues, that condemns obliquely (the person/people being condemned is/are unnamed), and that viciously attacks people who are unable to defend themselves (this is bullying, by the way, and adults do it just as much, if not more than, as kids do) are the most common forms of disrespect.

While quintessential leaders may address big-picture issues and things they find legitimate fault with and/or disagree with in the speech they use in writing and speaking, they are always careful to show respect in these areas. When we stop being decent human beings to each other, then we cannot claim to be quintessential leaders.

Is it libelous? Speech that directly attacks another human being by name – quintessential leaders don’t do this because the reality is that none of us can really be inside the head, the heart, the soul of another person and it’s always wise to give the benefit of doubt – is never a good idea.

For a lot of reasons.

First, even if there’s no legal action taken, we’re all on shaky ground with things we cannot definitively prove through firsthand knowledge or by factual evidence.

Second, many reputations have been ruined by these kinds of attacks which were based on innuendo and rumor. When the facts later negated the attack, it was too late for the person attacked to recover.

Third, put yourself in the person’s shoes that you want to attack and smear by name. Would you want someone to do that to you? I don’t think any of us would, but this is one of the many things that quintessential leaders consider in the speech they choose to write and speak.

Does it give a negative and/or false impression about us? I don’t think many of us really consider what our speech says about us. I think if we did – and quintessential leaders always do – we would be much more circumspect about what we say and write or share and endorse (social media).

Now is the point where each of us, striving to be quintessential leaders, need, not to look at everyone else, but to look at ourselves in how we use the freedom of speech in what we say and what we write.

What is the intent of the words we speak and write and share and endorese (social media)?

Is the speech that we use to say and write and share and endorse (social media) things appropriate?

What impact does the speech that we speak with, write with, and share and endorse (social media) have?

How are we doing?

 

Comments
  1. […] we want to say it (“and if they don’t like, well they can just get over it, because it’s our right!”) and never apologize for anything we say or […]

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