The Point of No Return, crossing the Rubicon

It wasn’t as simple as just crossing another river. By law, no Roman general could lead armed troops into Rome. So when Julius Caesar led his Thirteenth Legion across the Rubicon River and into Italy in 49 BC, it was an act of treason. The impact of Caesar’s decision was irreversible, generating years of civil war before Rome’s great general became absolute ruler. Still today, the phrase “crossing the Rubicon” is a metaphor from “passing the point of no return.”

Sometimes we can cross a relational Rubicon with the words we say to others. Once spoken, words can’t be taken back. They can either offer help or comfort or do damage that feels just as irreversible as Caesar’s march on Rome.

This reminds me of two articles appearing in the D.O.M (Director of Maintenance) magazine written in May 2015 and May 2018 by Gordon Dupont, under the heading The Human Error (Dupont, who is often called “The Father of the Dirty Dozen.)” They are entitled: Lack of Communication and Conflict Resolution. In each, Gordon writes about a mnemonic device, (memory device) that we should employ before we speak so we don’t cross the Rubicon.

T.H.I.N.K before you speak and ask yourself the following questions:

T - Is it True? Is what you are about to say really completely True? If not sure, don’t say it.
H - Is it Helpful? Hurtful words, once spoken cannot be retracted and build filters to further communication, while helpful words help break down filters and improve communication.
I - Is it Insightful? Is what you are about to say going to help in the other persons understanding? If you are not sure, take the time to reword it until it is.
N - Is it Necessary? If it’s not, then why say it?
K – Is it Kind? This is important if we are to reduce the filters that exist today. An unkind word can develop a lasting filter that may have major repercussions at a later date.

THINK what the world would be like if only everyone would THINK before speaking and ensure that the answer is yes to each of the questions.

Click here for issue 10

Be Safe in the Region of Risk

Roger Hughes

Decoding Human Factors, LLC

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