TattleI’ve never been fond of a tattle-tale. I didn’t like them when I was a kid, and I don’t like them now. Can you imagine the nerve of someone telling on you when you’re in an important meeting? Perhaps you’re standing in front of an audience, in the middle of a presentation, when the tattle-tale strikes. Talk about nerve! Who, in their right mind, would actually go out of their way to alert others of a mistake you have made? To make it even worse, it is almost always a mistake no one would actually catch if this knucklehead didn’t blab to others around them?! It turns out that this knucklehead is you!

It happens to the best of us. You are in a pressure situation, and under pressure, it isn’t unusual for the mouth to be moving faster than the brain can think. Instead of slipping in a filler word like, “um” or “uh,” we slip in filler sentences like these:

  • “Oh boy, I forgot to bring an important document. That’s okay; we can work with this other one instead. It’s almost as good anyway.”
  • “We’re running a little short on time today. I’m going to have to cut out a small piece I normally like to do, but we can manage without it.”
  • “You know I forgot to tell you something I should have mentioned earlier. I’ll just tell you about it now.”

Unfortunately, these filler sentences are not only unnecessary, but they also alert others of the mistakes you are making. These are mistakes that people would be totally unaware of if there wasn’t someone being such a tattletale. You’re not just tattling on yourself; you are also diminishing the experience you are creating for others.

  • You “forgot to bring an important document?” Just show them the other document that’s almost as good, and don’t forget it again! Why would you tell them of your mistake? Now you’ve convinced them that they are receiving inferior information.
  • You’re “running a little short on time today?” Why do they need to know this information? Cut out that short piece you can easily manage without, and give your audience the joy of being part of a wonderfully run program delivery.
  • You “forgot to tell” them something you “should have mentioned earlier?” Just mention it now, and tell them how important it is to mention it now. Give them the joy of hearing this essential point.

So often, we are our worst enemies. We aren’t being judged on how perfectly we handle information; we are being judged on how perfectly we handle ourselves.   For the most part, people are rooting for you. By rooting for you, they are rooting for themselves.   They don’t need to hear, nor do they want to hear, of your mistakes. These mistakes are as irrelevant to them as they are to you. But these filler word phrases, spoken under your breath, are never lost on others. As a matter of fact, these little tattle-tales become a major focus to others and leave a lasting impression. Those you are communicating with are left thinking, “It was a good meeting. If only the person I was listening to had done _______.” Mistakes can and will almost always happen.

The next time you are searching for a document, or you’re making some delivery decisions on the fly, or you’re failing to mention something you normally mention earlier, or you’re struggling with any of the thousands of other things that can often go awry, don’t be a tattle-tale. Spare all those around you the filler words no one really wants to hear. Just cover it up and push forward!


  1. Boy, does that guy ever sound familiar! Honestly never liked him and, thanks to your Blarticle, I’ll make sure he doesn’t show up at my next presentation! Thanks for the tips, my friend!
    Best ,

    • Rob Jolles says:

      Yes, that guy usually slips in when no one is paying attention. Be on the look out! Great hearing from you J.V.

  2. Thank you very much Rob. It’s always good to make sure we don’t self-sabotage.

    • Rob Jolles says:

      Funny, when you say “self-sabotage” it seems so obvious to not tell on ourselves. Believe it or not, two days after I wrote this piece I started mumbling about an audio issue I was having right in front of an audience. Ugh! Thanks for posting Lorri.

  3. Bob Haller says:

    Such a great point. I’m sure it’s best for your self esteem to avoid the “tattle tale”. By voicing the words, it gives them more power in your head. Bad for your presentation and a bad habit for your head! Always enjoy your BLArticles Rob!

    • Rob Jolles says:

      I happen to know you work as endodontist helping us all preserve our teeth. I’m quite sure none of us want to hear you tattle on yourself while in our mouth! :-) I can assure you, that won’t calm us down. Always great to see your post Bob.

  4. Very useful little angel on the shoulder tip. It’s so easy to default to the habit of self-criticizing and unwittingly letting others in on the action! Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  5. Sarah Madden says:

    Such a timely tip, Rob, to do your best, and not overshare the issues. Thanks for the reminder!


    • Rob Jolles says:

      I was raised to believe that sharing is a wonderful trait. But not this kind of information! Thanks for posting Sarah.

  6. Brilliant practical insights as usual. Our insecurities can breed self-defeating co-dependence. Been there, done that.
    Thank you for sharing your gifts with us.

    Peter Getoff

    • Eight years of writing BLArticles® every other week, and have never missed a deadline yet. Do you know what keeps me motivated? Comments like yours. Thank you for your kind words, and insight Peter.

Speak Your Mind


Facebook Comments


Google+ Comments