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20 years

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bite Your Tongue


It’s not quite a Rush Limbaugh-esque on-air remark. But Winston-Salem (NC) Journal reporter Travis Fain’s inopportune comment to a school board member elicited an apology that contains a communications lesson of the first order.

It seems Fain was less than pleased when a school board member repeated several times that he would not speak to any Journal reporter. Fain then called him a part of the male anatomy. That, in turn, caused the school board to send him and the newspaper a warning letter.

As a contrite Fain publicly responded afterwards: "There's a lesson in that for anyone, especially these days, when your dumb moments live on through Google and the Internet." He concluded by saying, "[P]eople I've worked with over the years ans scores of potential future editors will see it [online]. That is the kind of control you cede when you do somethgn stupid."

At CommCore, we advise all our communications clients to take a pause before responding, especially when under duress. Bite your tongue (literally if softly), or purse your lips like Bill Clinton, or start off by saying, "Well…" slowly as Ronald Reagan did. Give your brain a moment to register what you are responding to, and how, before saying anything.

What are your tips for pausing before replying?

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