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Published:July 12th, 2007 16:42 EST
Open Mouth Insert Foot

Open Mouth Insert Foot

By Kent Healy

Recently, I traveled to the east coast for an interview on a TV show. When I arrived in the studio, the production team didn't miss a beat. Before I even finished introducing myself to the producers and staff, they had already fastened a wireless lapel microphone to my suit jacket.

There was also another guest on the same show that day who underwent the same process. To protect his innocence, we'll call him Jeremy. Now we both had live microphones on. Fortunately, after being on a reality show for a month last year, I became used to living with a microphone.

I wish I could say the same for Jeremy, but unfortunately for him, he was not used to wearing a wireless microphone. We engaged in conversation behind the scenes as we waited for our signal to walk on set for our interviews. Much of our discussion was just small talk. We asked each other questions about who we were, where we're from, what we're doing, and so on. As we were talking, we couldn't help but observe the production crew with curious eyes. The way they were interacting with each other and preparing to go on air was similar to watching entertainment during the break at a southern rodeo!

As we watched this process unfold, we were surprised by how disorganized and clueless this crew appeared to be. Our conversation suddenly stopped as we saw one of the crew members trip over a cord and fall into the camera man. Did I really just see that? … Yep. Sure did. To say the least, we were both a little shocked. Jeremy nudged me with his shoulder as he cupped his hand next to his mouth and leaned close to my ear ensuring no one else could hear him. “Wow,” he said. “This crew is awful! If it were 30 years ago, I would have thought that I was watching The Three Stooges warm up for their routine…”

Before he could say another word I quickly pointed to our microphones. Jeremy stopped mid sentence. His eye's enlarged to the size of small saucers and his flesh turned to a brilliant shade of red. I immediately glanced at the person in charge of audio who was wearing his head phones connected to the audio receiver. "Are they looking?" Jeremy asked. Staring back at us with his eyes intensely fixated in our direction, I paused, took a breath and candidly said, "Yep." For the next hour, both of us were extremely conscious of every thought, comment, and move we made. We were being watched and intensely listened to by the production crew.

My interview went well and fortunately I made it through the day without talking myself into any trouble, but I was reminded of how easy it is to say something negative and how often many of us do it-without even being aware of it!

On my flight back home to the West coast, countless questions swirled in my head. I thought of how my life would be different if I eliminated my critical nature entirely. How would people treat me if I only had positive things to say? What would my relationships be like? How much better would I feel about myself? How differently would others feel about themselves?

This inspired the thought of a new personal challenge: I will try living like I have a microphone fastened to my body 24 hours a day. If there was someone listening to everything I said, I knew I would be motivated to choose better, more constructive things to think about and talk about. Since I've personally taken on this challenge, I've realized how easy it is to be overcritical of such trivial things. I've also become more aware of the conversations that take place around me. I've noticed how many of us place far too much importance on things that don't really matter that much.

Many of us choose to talk about things and say things that really don't need to be said at all. Be sure you're emphasizing and focusing on things that encourage positive growth and support.

It does not matter whether it's a snide remark, a petty complaint, or a sarcastic comment. Saying anything negative at all does not serve you or anyone else. I guess it's cause for us to revisit the good ole' childhood adage, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say it at all."

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