One PR Fix, or communication upgrade, that I learned at the beginning of my career, is to replace using the word “but” with “and” to soften unfavorable language. While this has come in handy in business, it’s also been useful in my personal communication as well.
Before I learned this, I never really considered how the terms “but,” “however,” or “yet” can actually be negative. When I stopped to think about it, I realized that they are mainly used in contrary to something and have a subtle way to bring down a conversation. Why? Because many times, “but” is used as an excuse or a crutch. Over and over people use “but” to take the accountability off of their shoulders. For example, “I did my homework, BUT I don’t have it with me because my dog ate it.” Or “I would have been on time, BUT I got stuck in traffic.” Even though this is not the case for all uses of “but,” the frequency of using a “but statement” as a justification for a mistake has dirtied the interpretation of the word. (more…)
There is always a way to graciously address any situation, no matter how uncomfortable. Plain and simple: ignoring the truth or being phony feeds into the discomfort of the most awkward situations and makes them worse. (more…)
This may seem elementary, but it isn’t. The truth gets cloudy sometimes, and that’s what gets us in trouble. Most of us don’t intentionally lie or exaggerate the truth to hurt anyone. In fact, many of us get caught up in an occasional white lie or embellishment to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. You know what we mean. “I’m so sorry, I can’t attend your son’s play because I have another appointment at that time,” (even though you don’t). In today’s modern world, we’ve become too accustomed to seeing media, paparazzi, and advertising exaggerate the truth. Embellishment has almost become the norm, and we’ve become desensitized to it.
What’s so wrong with a white lie to preserve a friend’s feelings? Well, first off, what would happen if they found out that you fibbed? How would they feel then? And what would your friend feel about you? Besides that consequence, the fact is, when you tell a lie, your intentions are to deceive, and deception is never the right thing. It’s just not good for the soul. (more…)
Apologies can be very awkward. Handling an apology gently and thoughtfully can ease your discomfort and encourage the other party to accept your apology so that you can both move forward positively. When apologizing remember to:
- Be direct. Don’t beat around the bush. Get right to the point. Say “I’m sorry” upfront.
- Keep eye contact. Looking the other person directly in the eyes shows that you are being genuine and honest.
- Use a soft and steady voice that shows respect and remorse. It also communicates that you are there to create peace versus conflict.
- Don’t be defensive or make excuses. Sure, there are reasons that caused you to do what you did. Regardless, what you did was wrong, so those reasons aren’t relevant. Bringing them up will sound as if you’re justifying or minimizing the wrongdoing.
- Keep it short. If the other party wants to rehash the entire situation, which may bring up bad feelings for both of you, politely interrupt and say “This is why I’m apologizing. I’m sorry. Let’s put this behind us.”
Do you have a specific situation that requires you to make an apology? Would you like assistance with how to carry out the apology? We would love to help you! Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell us your situation, and we’ll email you back with advice on how to handle this apology.
Note: FMPR reserves the right to respond or not respond to any request. FMPR cannot be held liable for the outcome of any advice given by its employees, consultants, or contractors.
The following is an excerpt from “The PR Fix for the Everyday Person” © 2013 by Jenny Fujita and Joy Koerte.
We always tell our clients that when they’re asked questions about a situation involving several parties, they must only answer for their own company. The same goes for you. If you’re asked a question about how another person may feel about a situation, pause and then say, “I can’t answer for them but I know that I…” (more…)
The following is an excerpt from “The PR Fix for the Everyday Person” © 2013 by Jenny Fujita and Joy Miura Koerte.
“The trouble with talking too fast is you may say something you haven’t thought of yet.”
– Ann Landers
Thinking before speaking seems obvious but most people don’t do it consistently. We have become a society of blurting out things without regard for the consequences. We see it in politics when politicians put their foot in their mouth in front of a news camera. We see it in the grocery store when impatient people berate the cashier. We see it at public hearings when people yell out their opinions. We see it in high-drama reality TV shows and think, “Can you believe she said that?” (more…)
You know that saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? Well it’s not true. There’s a phrase that comes in handy for most any occasion or incident when something not-so-nice has been said: “Thank you.” Here are a few examples. (more…)
The following scenario and script is part of our ongoing series about how to respond in difficult situations. One of these days, when you find yourself in an awkward situation, you just might be able to hearken back to one of these scripts and use the right words that will help smooth out the situation. After all, that’s the basis of public relations: having good relationships no matter what the scenario. So here goes.
Scenario: Jean is busy at work in her cubicle and her office mate, Dan, peeks around from his workspace and says, “Did you hear?” Taking the bait, Jean asks, “Hear what?” Dan rolls his eyes, “You know, Teri, in Customer Service, she’s messing around with Harry Beefe.”
Script for Jean: Jean furrows her eyebrows and says, “Gosh, I hope they don’t get married because then her name would be Teri Beefe. Jean and Dan laugh uproariously. And, Jean adds, “Seriously, I once knew a woman who got married and her new name was “Candy Korn.”
And, the conversation continues about funny names.
Jean could have been righteous and exclaimed that she doesn’t engage in rumor mongering at work, making Dan feel like a jerk for bringing up the rumor in the first place. Or, she could’ve been pensive and said nothing, leaving them both in a state of discomfort. But what she chose to do was respond with a bit of diplomatic humor, which diffused the gossip session. Then, she immediately bridged the conversation to funny names, which took the focus off Teri and Harry. Handling the conversation this way left her and Dan friends, and yet sent the message that she wasn’t going to run in the rumor mill.
If you have a difficult situation for which you’d like us to produce a script in our column, send it to us at email@example.com. Of course we’ll tweak the wording so that you and your business remain anonymous.
Sometimes in difficult situations, we don’t know what to say. We just don’t have the right words. Thoughtful verbal discretion is an art, for sure, but it’s something we can all learn with some good examples and practice. So, as part of an ongoing series, we’re going to give you a scenario along with our recommended script. One of these days, when you find yourself in an awkward situation, you just might be able to hearken back to one of these scripts and use the right words that will help smooth out the situation. After all, that’s the basis of public relations: having good relationships no matter what the scenario. So here goes. (more…)