Without commenting on how people are interpreting the Tiger Woods situation – cheating on a partner, whether it is a spouse or in business is not good – there are a few excellent lessons in what is transpiring. And given the rate Tiger would charge for a lesson, you are getting a great deal on this.

Once you hit “Send”, the communication is completely out of your control.

You do not have to be famous for this to come back and bite you. The famous ones just make the most news. Think before you hit “Send”.

Without the text or voice mails on file, Tiger might have been able to deny his links to the various women. Or, the nude pictures of Vanessa Hudgens or Rihanna that were meant for boyfriends and leaked on the internet. Fine to send the photos or sexy texts to a loved one, but I suspect they might have preferred to keep them private and not for the world to see.

Once you hit “Send”, the control is out of your hands and you must rely on others for privacy. Not usually a smart strategy.

Your communication may be out there forever. Act accordingly.

With today’s technology, just because you erase an email or delete a file from your computer does not mean that it is gone. And what you can do only affects your side of the equation. Again, you lack any control over the other party’s actions.

I am sure Tiger erased any text messages he received and, from the audio released, it appears he tried to get one lady to change her cell phone. From the tape, I do not think Tiger expected her to release the voice mail to the press. Never count on anyone to act in your best interests. They will always act for their own benefit.

Also, in the technological world we live in, public communications from many years ago are simply a Google away. You see this with politicians every day. An opponent goes back 20 years to find some controversial statements that will put the politician in a negative light. If there are other women out there with texts or voice messages, they can sit back and release the information when it is advantageous to them. That might be next week or next decade. Tiger can only wait it out.

With your statements and correspondence hanging around forever, you should bear this in mind before doing something that might come back to haunt you in the future.

I would also recommend that you keep your personal life separate from your business life. Use your home computer for personal things and only use your work computer for work. Although laws are changing, and are different in different jurisdictions, for now you should assume that that your boss can review your email exchanges.  So be careful of what you do at the office.

Ask yourself, how would this communication look in court?

When communicating, especially in business, I always ask myself how this email, voice message, text, memo, etc. would look if I had to defend it in court. And by court, that could include your boss, a client, your spouse, the government, and a whole host of others who can make your life miserable.

In Tiger’s case, there could be divorce court down the road. Imagine how his wife’s lawyer will use any photos, emails, or voice mails to maximize the settlement. Or, in the event there is no divorce, I expect the number of carats in diamonds that Tiger will have to buy for his wife will be directly related to the number of women that come forward.

Better to be a little paranoid, than to end up in trouble. I know of many cases where subpoenas were issued for internal documentation and the involved parties had to justify what they wrote in court. Not always easy at the best of times, it often becomes a nightmare when trying to answer questions from an experienced litigator.

Always double check who is receiving the communication before hitting “Send”.

I expect you can insert your own example of someone you know, likely you, that sent something to the wrong person. Confusing “Reply All” with “Reply” on an email is a favorite of many people. Second might be texting the wrong person.

While you still may have your golf slice, hopefully after reading this you will save yourself some embarrassment, or worse, in the future.

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