Sunday, May 29, 2005

Bad words

PR veteran Jeoff Barraclough has this thing he says about how you say things.

"He's a nice guy," Jeoff would say about nobody in particular, "he's not stuck up at all."

What do you know, everyone starts suspecting that whoever-it-is is actually stuck up. Jeoff's point was that, even if you're negating a negative (e.g. not stuck up), the first negative remains. It stands out. It kind of smells.

I should've learnt that when Jeoff told me that oh, years ago. But no, I had to make my own special mistake, on this very blog in fact (there might be a prize if you can find it).

I complimented someone by saying what they were not. And sure enough, the inferred suggestion was that they actually were what they're not.

Lesson - really do emphasise the positive, especially about the people you work with. Our words have meanings beyond what we're using them for. And some keywords - especially negative ones - just stick out like a sore thumb.


At 10:01 am, Blogger Borscht said...

Perhaps another good lesson from this is that you can instantly see what sorts of triggers one is miffed by. I mean, it's a helluva bitter way to treat people, but you're basically 'baiting' them to see how they respond.

Simon, you're the boss. You have to know how your personnel are going to deal with stuff when the pressure's cooking.

Are you going to stand helplessly by and wonder what's coursing through (and I hate this word, sorry) subordinate's mind, or are you going to get some answers for yourself, and find out what truly drives that person.

My idea of it all was a certain someone was also, astutely, 'testing the waters' out with another certain someone. In a way, this is what was being done.

Any other attempt to couch it is really unjust.

State what it really is, and you will ensure maximum buy-in.

Naku na, AM


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