Top 7 Tips from 2008's Biggest Communication Blunders
By Bill Lampton, Ph.D.
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At the end of every year, it is easy to remember the worst communication blunders that made headlines and became the story of the day on newscasts.
Certainly 2008 provided many instances of communication mistakes. Recalling the blunders and the lessons they taught is not a problem. The only problem is selecting which seven were the most inexcusably stupid.
Here's my list, and what I suggest we can learn from each public false step:
- Casey Anthony claimed innocence in her daughter Caylee's disappearance, even though Casey told no one about her daughter's absence for a month.
Tip: People won't believe you if your statement or action doesn't seem logical. Definitely, any parent knows it is not reasonable for a mother to wait thirty days to ask authorities for help. Aristotle called this factor logic, and said it was one of the three great tools of persuasion, with emotion and the speaker's character being the other two.
- O.J. Simpson offered an emotion-ridden statement at his sentencing in Las Vegas on December 5.
Tip: Timing your communication effort is a must for maximum advantage. Even if what Simpson said was true--that he had no idea he was harming anyone or breaking the law--his timing was terrible. The verdict had come in, and the judge had made her decision about his sentence. His statement might have had an impact during the trial, but was useless now.
- The auto industry's big three leaders asked Congress for huge bailouts, yet they flew to D.C. in their private corporate jets.
Tip: Your nonverbal actions must be consistent with your spoken message. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it well: "What you are speaks so loudly I cannot hear a word you say." Owning a private jet doesn't coincide with most people's concept of financial destitution.
- Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden referred to John McCain as "McClain" during a speech in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Tip: Use self-deprecating humor when you make a glaring mistake. When the crowd laughed, Biden quipped instantly, "You see, I don't even recognize him any more." Keep Biden's bounce-back in mind. Tasteful, spontaneous humor can turn a blunder into a memorable advantage.
- In September, President Bush tried to assure TV viewers that the U.S. economy is sound.
Tip: Never make a general statement that contradicts very obvious facts. Even a beginning debater knows that. While Bush was speaking, unemployment numbers soared, major companies filed for bankruptcy, and the stock market plunged hundreds of points daily.
- Fred Thompson's quest for the presidential nomination was listless and disappointing.
Tip: When you start a project, maintain the same level of zest and enthusiasm people expect from you before the launch. Weeks of publicity and fanfare preceded Thompson's announcement, with the expectation that this accomplished actor would sizzle. Instead, he fizzled, with infrequent appearances and bland statements when he did show up.
- Hillary Clinton claimed that she had endured an ambush of sniper fire upon her arrival in Bosnia in 1990.
Tip: Remember that the age of technology records and can reproduce, with alarming speed, documentation of our words and actions. Already, job applicants have learned that some of their pictures and comments on the social networks--while fun and daring at the time--will remove them from a list of job applicants. In Hillary's case, almost immediately newscasters found and broadcasted archived films of her Bosnia arrival, which portrayed the scene as quite peaceful.
Bill Lampton, Ph.D., helps you "Learn More. . .Earn More" through his coaching, speaking, and seminars. His highly interactive presentations have brought visible results for the Ritz-Carlton Cancun, British Columbia Legal Management Association, Celebrity Cruises, the Missouri Bar, Gillette, and Duracell. Visit his Web site to sign up for his online newsletter. Call 678-316-4300
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Article Submitted On: December 29, 2008