Have you heard the latest?

She said that about them!  When they confronted her, she said this, making it worse!

Through the ages, individuals have been spitting out news and opinions, only to regret their words. Thanks to today’s technology, one careless communication—whether purposely said or unintentionally leaked—can be impossible to clean up and contain.

A recent encounter I had with a stranger illustrates what typically happens when too much information is revealed.

While in a store, I watched a woman take a few steps away from her shopping cart and turn her back to it as she considered some items on the shelf. She had left her open purse in her cart, and for a moment, I was closer to her valuables than she. Consequently, I found myself standing guard and thinking that enough time was passing for an adept thief to take advantage of the situation.

As she returned to her cart, I established eye contact with the woman and said, “Several years ago, a lady warned me to be more careful with my purse when I left it unattended in a shopping cart. Since then, I’ve passed along the same advice many times.”

Her reply had multiple facets:

  • Appreciation – “Thanks.”
  • Acknowledgement – “I know.”
  • Denial – “I was watching it.”

Our brief exchange was friendly, but in parting, she paused to study my face and then looked from me to her purse. Her expression spoke volumes:

  • Blame – Having witnessed the fact that she’d left her purse open and unprotected, and also pointing it out to her, I’d placed myself in a position to be blamed if she looked inside and thought an item was missing.
  • Suspicion - Even if she decided her possessions were all intact, the woman couldn’t stop herself from wondering if I’d tried, or simply wanted, to take something but didn’t have enough time.

Like many indiscreet communicators, who are often unfocused and complacent, the woman took a big risk by failing to guard what was personal and valuable to her. Her biggest mistake, however, was in questioning my motives rather than owning her mistake.

My best to you,

Sallie Boyles, a.k.a. Write Lady