Jessica was riding the subway home to Brooklyn one Saturday afternoon and, while holding onto a pole on a crowded train car, she overheard two young women talking about a co-worker — and, as it turns out, a friend of hers. Using the friend’s first and last name, they were saying that she was thinking about moving back to her Midwestern city and planned to ask her company if she could work from there. (Any doubt about who they were talking about went out the door when Jessica noticed that the duo was wearing clothing adorned with the logo of her friend’s company.)
That seemingly innocuous conversation could have been truly detrimental. They clearly had no idea that the person standing near them knew the subject of their conversation. It wasn’t even on their radar that their coworker may not have wanted them publicly discussing her career and life plans on a busy subway train. Luckily, Jessica would never share the specifics of the conversation she overheard on that train but lots of people would. And if that got back to the subject, it could have potentially ruined a relationship or her career plans.
The lesson: We live in an increasingly small world and no matter where you are — whether on a plane, train, vacation or walking down the street on your cell phone — you must consider that everything you say might be heard by the people around you and could easily backfire.