The Waste Bin of Mindfulness

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I often come up with blog ideas and then scrap them. They’re too pointed, petty or pedantic. So in the name of mindfulness, they get tossed in the Waste Bin.

But rather than just delete the posts altogether, I kept a running list of titles for [censored] and giggles. Here they are:

  • The Machiavellian Guide to Managing Personal Branders
  • Stop Whining About Facebook Privacy. PLEASE!
  • I Don’t Want to Read Your Rough Draft
  • If I Had an Office, There Would Be No Chairs
  • You Can’t Replace Courtesy with Social Updates
  • Worthy A-Listers
  • Author: Why Is Being Underpaid and Poor Cool?
  • Real Authors Don’t Brag About Trade Books
  • Read the Dictionary
  • What Being in the Top 1% of Influencers Gets You

So what does this list tell you?

I still think like an [censored]. I’ve just developed a three second pause in speech, and the good sense not to publish inflammatory posts. Maybe one day, I’ll get to the point where I think more lovingly and with less snark.

It does feel better to not publish these things. And as a result, I think we can all agree this small corner of the world is more civil.

So what do you think? Should we restrain our own speech in the name of civility and mindfulness? The best five comments will win a copy of my former colleague Andrea Weckerle’s new book Civility in the Digital Age.

A version of this post ran originally on Kaarina Dillabough’s blog. Featured image by Steve Brokaw.


  • Geoff we discuss this often. It is a delicate balance between helpful dialogue and walking away when you are passionate because you see people who need guidance.

    Something that a few of us have discussed behind the scenes…when are we part of the problem we state? Then another…do we really want to be those who post only the glittery good stuff?

    Being mindful is gaining traction.

    • I agree with this thought about only glittering stuff. And I know Andrea mentions this a lot. To me it’s not what you say, but how you say it, if that makes any sense. Can I levy a point without taking hostages? Professionally speaking if I am a communicator and a writer, I should be able to do this, IMO. It takes skill, perhaps sacrificing a little of that social media drama and attention, but I find it is more pragmatic and better for sustaining long-term relationships.

  • I never asked you to read my rough draft so piss off………too snarky???

  • Geoff,

    Absolutely nothing wrong with free and unrestrained speech…

    …at the right time and in the right places. All depends on the reputation you want to have.

    Talk with me privately, and you can talk all the smack and snark you want. I can take it and I don’t give a rat’s petute. You can trash me, call me stupid, call me ugly, call me moronic, and I won’t care. In fact, I might even agree. Do it publicly, and that’s another matter.

    Not only might you be bordering on slander, but you would clearly demonstrate the level of shallowness that may be your true self. A level that would not likely sit well with many of your paying customers?

    I suppose it may be cathartic to think about, and even write about, those topics that roil your soul. However, it is probably better to publish them in the waste bin rather than risk the wrath of public humiliation.

    Wanna rant a little?


    • Yeah, rare is the rant that I have published that worked out for the better. They almost always seem to create a larger bigger issue for me, making me regret ever publishing the rant.

      I agree with the private communication. I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to see a “friend” criticize you publicly — sometimes behind your back — without having the courtesy to talk to you first. To me that’s not a friend.

      In sports terms, this is the locker room analogy. Say it to me, say it to me privately if you have an issue. And if you just want to shoot off online, then fine, but it’s not the same relationship.

      On another note, I was having a conversation with an HR professional about written communications, and she recommended never critiquing someone in email unless absolutely necessary. Such conversations are always best done face to face and on the phone. Again relationships and feedback.

      Great comment, sir.

      • Indeed. Emailing a critique is almost as bad as a public rebuke, unless you are a celebrity being reviewed by a critic.

  • Well, I surely mind my words on-line and in blog posts (and in comments). Don’t believe there is anything to gain, at all, with inflammatory or hurtful posts. We can leave that to other trouble mongers.
    However, I also think that most of the above titles have a useful post in them. It’s all about the delivery.

    Mind you, with some messages the ‘what’ is just not OK, then it doesn’t matter how you say it. Then you should just shut the [censored] up.

    (Now I am wondering what you ‘still think like’?)

    • Motive means everything here. If the post educates and informs than it’s a win and should be rephrased. If it’s a hard criticism or rant, for me, it’s usually not well grounded and needs to be shelved. It’s usually my ego putting others down to look good (ugly truth).

      My thinking is a little better, still rough. More restrained and patient, though.

      • Know thy self. A good place to be. It takes courage to face that, and wisdom to learn from it. Not many people can do that.
        Sharing it helps other to become aware.., going good Geoff.

  • IMHO, the issue is that somewhere in the last two generations we stopped teaching the skills of respectful disagreement. There is nothing wrong with saying what you think in whatever manner best fits your personality, but as my grandmother pounded into our heads, “say what you will, but you better darn well say it with respect”. Snark is not a bad thing as long as it is not a constant state of being. Occasionally we need snark or strong statements or definitive positions to relay our message and make others stop and think. When snark or general negativity or disagreement become our constant state of communication, then we have a problem.
    We have become a society that does not know where that line gets drawn. We need to start teaching those skills again. There is an old Southern expression that I try to emulate – an iron hand in a velvet glove. It does not mean that we are not firm and do not say what needs to be said in the manner that best relays our message, just sometimes we find a way to say it that has a little polish to it.

    • in the quest for attention, turned heads has supplanted respect for social equity. And that’s pretty frightening when you consider what behaviors it is encouraging. And when you consider it just takes a few moments to polish that message a bit, well… It’s kind of sad. Great comment, Gloria!

  • Should we restrain our own speech in the name of civility and mindfulness?

    I am of the belief that there is a right time, place and condition for all things.

    The fact that I tend to just say what I think and feel I should say despite the domain aside, I agree with Marc that there is nothing wrong with free and unrestrained speech.

    I, however, am aware of the need for more civil and less angry tones. We tend to forget in what ways the mind of humanity is a hive mind; meaning that, there is a tone to the mind of humanity that every one contribute too. This tone sets the climate in many domains: political, personal, work and etc. Learning to be and practicing civility (especially as we are socially learning to adjust to the new attention economy- evolving as a society) can ease tensions in ways unimaginable and create room for opening and meaningful bias altering dialogue.

    As Confucius said, “The more man mediates upon good thought’ the better will be his world and the world at large. ”

    Now I for one, and only because I give myself a lot of undo and yet to be earned credit for being somewhat an expert in the art of influence and the science of compliance as it is applied both on and off line, would have love to have read:

    The Machiavellian Guide to Managing Personal Branders

    Stop Whining About Facebook Privacy. PLEASE!

    What Being in the Top 1% of Influencers Gets You

    I have been following for a long time. I got some exposure to the sharper edge. And you want to know something? I gained from it.

    Blah- “Balance to Civility”.

    Etiquette is not nor ever has been a replacement for knowing exactly what to do or what to say to produce a given effect. You can teach a parrot to say words, but that does not mean that a parrot is capable of carrying on a full conversation.

    There were a time you pointed out a lot how silly we think and how much we got it wrong. These titles though full of grit work marvelously in showing us the extent in which society is utterly stupid at times and how flowing along unthinking with the hype would eventually not just make us look stupid but land us in a lot of failure.

    P.S. did I mention they tend to be funny as well. I am for a balance artful approach. I am for knowing your audience. I am for civility this is important to. I am not for civility being the sin qua non of social or personal communications sometimes you just got to let people have it. It is not always an ego thing. The world has become to relative and I can in what way a massive push for civility can lead into further blindness of universal, societal and civil absolutes.

    As J Krishnamurti said, It is not a measure of mental health to be so profoundly well adjusted to a sick society.

    I love the civil Geoff…….. I love the TOUGH MUDDER to.

    Okay, that’s my two cents back to trolling your blog. :)

    • LOL, I guess you could say by publishing the headlines I said what I was thinking without getting into the details. In a meditative sense, sometimes you need to be firm and say what needs to be said. I have done that, even in recent months (the Guy Kawasaki Boston Bombing incident comes to mind).

      That being said, I am not sure I am as vested in the profession and the general welfare of the marketing community as I used to be. I care less in part because I see more, and think the overall blogging conversation is not as significant as we may think.

      What is significant is immediate impact with those who are near me, on and offline, and that drives much of this. Just some thoughts on that. Thanks for a good comment, Kevin!

  • Part of being civilised is accepting that others will have differing viewpoints, as well different tolerance for snark and [censorship].

    Personally, I cuss like a sailor, but I understand that, though you might also engage in such vernacular (or stereotypes) offline, that’s not the experience you’re trying to curate here in your corner of the web, so I abstain from being an effing gearhead ’round these parts. ;)

    Back to tolerance as it pertains to civility, I believe we should make an effort to adjust our volume, bass, and treble, as a show of respect to others, but inherent in that is the understanding we’re only human, so the occasional F-bomb or radically different perspective is going to happen. These should not detract from the big picture.

    The things we have in common are what empowers us to realize the potential in our differences.

    • I am not a boy scout, and also agree that a cuss word here and there is apropos. I even use them on the occasional post, though I tend to think it’s never really good for the author to make a point solely through forceful words.

      And the issue with common words and ideas,I believe is making them accessible to people. We may not agree, but we can share an ethos together!

      • Sooth.

        And, for the record, those headlines you just binned would make great linkbait. Few things garner attention like controversy – real or imagined.

        Stop Whining About Facebook Privacy! Please!
        (Here’s 3 simple rules of thumb to ensure you never have to worry about it again!)

        I Don’t Want to Read Your Rough Draft
        (I want someone to tell me how remarkably excited about it you are!)

        Worth thinking about, anyway. :)

  • I still have plenty of snark – my wife is my best example of “Should we restrain our own speech in the name of civility and mindfulness?” Of course, when she goes off the reservation, it is that much more hilarious. I’ll give you an example…don’t tell her I told:

    She did a Zumba class, and the rest of us did different workouts. When we were relaxing afterwards, we asked “did you meet anybody you liked while at Zumba”. Her deadpan reply: “Nope, hate ’em all”.

    Which is totally not true. That woman kinda loves everybody on first sight, so she’s a role model for the rest of us Vickerys that carry a little more judgmental streaks.

    Having said all of that – every one of us abhor bullying in all forms (offline and online). When it is offline, I’m usually the guy that steps in and cows the bully…no room for that ****. Harder to do online without it escalating…since that screen and a few miles are separating you…so I support your efforts to make the world a kinder place.

    Good luck!

    • Love the zumba example. None of us are perfect, and we all suffer. I remember once, I pissed off a zen nun so m badly she was wagging her finger at me, her face violently red. We have to allow for the human factor, and just strive to improve. Perfection is simply unreasonable!

  • Restrain to a point, in the name of civility and mindfulness, as you say. Too many go all snarky all the time, and it loses its usefulness; and frankly, gets my eyes rolling. But a dash here and there is very valid and useful, and without it, the points and opinions are likely not to rise above all the other blabber out there. Like many things — moderation….

    • Fortunately for me, I’m just bubbling over with snark. It inevitably leaks out at some point ;) LOL. Thanks for weighing in, Joe.

  • Just because we aren’t face to face with a warm body, while we are using social media, does not excuse us from common courtesy, civility and basic good manners.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good snark as much as the next guy, but there are ways of snarking properly, and ways of snarking inappropriately.

    I try to ask myself the following questions before I post:

    1. Would I want to see this printed in a national newspaper with my name in the byline?

    2. Would I want this plastered on a billboard?
    3. Would my mom be ashamed of me for writing this?

    If I can answer yes to the first two, and no to the last, then I know I’m good to go!

    • Those are really good checks. I like the list, and if you can get through them, then you are probably all set!

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