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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Of course we’ll tweak the wording so that you and your business remain anonymous.