The Essential Invisibles

Who hasn’t worked with someone they disliked? I’m sure, many of us have worked with people who made us uncomfortable or whose values completely clashed with ours.

Sitting across difficult clients or hotheaded superiors can be psychologically taxing — especially if you’re a PR pro. It can be hard for people to distinguish between personable & pushover —  doubly so when  you make it a point to give your critical feedback in a calm, pleasant way!

At times, the road of least resistance can be far, far more appealing. Upholding what is moral and ethical while your boss fumes in the boardroom? Forget it.

After all, there’s only so much feedback you can give — and besides, if he doesn’t want to listen (to advice he paid for!) — it’s his funeral, right?

Wrong.

It’s easy to grin and bear it. It’s easy to let a difficult client continue a foolhardy strategy. It’s easy but it’s not right.

As communications professionals serving the public through our work with media, we have to accept that we’re not doing anyone favors if we take the easy road. It’s a disservice even to ourselves.

My remedy for such situations is simple:

  1. Treat it like a classic communications challenge. Dispense your advice 3 different ways: appeal to logic & facts, appeal to emotion, and most of all — highlight why it is advantageous for the client to follow your advice.
  2. Let them decide and take a step back. One of two things will happen. Either client will see your way and follow your suggested course of action or she won’t! (Sometimes,  I like taking a walk after I’ve expended all my energy in convincing my boss to follow a certain course of action. Mind you, I don’t walk out. I just take a walk after the meeting has adjourned…)
  3. Respect their position. Try your hardest to realign your course of action with your superior’s chosen strategy. Forget your misgivings & hope that they are right. And if it turns out that they are not, forgive them.

“What rubbish,” you might tell yourself after going through the trouble of reading through my 3-point remedy. And that is OK.

You see, doing what is right isn’t about being right. It’s not about oneupmanship. 

Save yourself from the psychological stress of seeing your well-laid plans fall apart. Salvage your relationship with your work colleagues. Hold fast to the essential ‘invisibles’: integrity, ethics, and forgiveness.

Happy weekend!

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