In my book, Smart Talk: The ABC's of Authentic Conversation, the letter Z section begins with "Know when to zip it up. Your mouth, that is."
Apparently, the current president of the European Union, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, didn't read the memo on "Silence is Golden." Rather than poll his constituency before he uttered the words now repeated in media globally--that the American stimulus package is the "road to hell" and will "undermine the stability of the global financial market"--he made the statement and then left it to other Czeck spokespeople to try to configure his comments as meaning that the EU itself would be on the way to hell if it increased its own spending too much.
Fat chance that will fly.
Topolanek's words are embarrassing for those in the EU who are attempting to find consensus in the economic crisis so that they can act in concert with one another as well as with the United States.
His remarks are impolitic at the least. Ironic as well, considering that his own Czeck governing coalition collapsed this week in response to a no-confidence vote on his leadership. In any event, there will be lots of scurrying around to overshadow his gaffe with nice-nice efforts in anticipation of the crucial meeting next week of the so-called Group of 20 nations, hosted by Topolanek himself.
This kind of thing ever happen to you? Or to those with whom you work? Sometimes it is wise to hold back and let others speak when you're hoping to gather a consensus. People are more likely to commit wholeheartedly to ideas and projects they've had a stake in authoring, as opposed to things they've been told--or worse, mandated--to do.
Topolanek has his work cut out for him in this crucially important effort to seek consensus. He may find it important to talk privately with those who feel he is undermining their efforts. Otherwise he may hear them telling him to take that road to hell himself.