In private conversation among like-minded friends, you fling harsh judgments at your enemies. All of you agree that certain people are “fools,” “jerks” or worse.
In public, however, such name-calling can undermine your credibility. You risk polarizing an audience when you speak without thinking and use words as weapons.
Present yourself as a judicious expert who can assess conflict in a fair, dispassionate tone. Choose words that describe rather than judge.
Say what you see. Use precise, vivid descriptions to convince the audience that you’re a reliable ob-server. This allows your listeners to draw their own conclusions based on your accurate, easy-to-follow narrative of an incident.
When you overplay your hand and use judgment-laden words, you divert people from your main message. What’s worse, they begin to doubt the validity of your remarks.
After two Domino’s employees made a YouTube video in which they blatantly disregarded hygiene and food preparation rules before boxing up pizza, the Internet made them stars. The disgusting video at-tracted more than 1 million views within 24 hours.
A company spokesman announced, “Nothing is local anymore. Any two idiots with a video camera and a dumb idea can damage the reputation of a 50-year-old brand.”
Lashing out at the two employees (soon to become former employees) only heightened the public furor. Words such as “idiots” and “dumb” did not reflect well on Domino’s.
A more sober response would have sounded better. Saying, “We’ve strengthened our hiring practices and enhanced our already strong commitment to training” could have tamped down the brouhaha.