Easy Ways to Keep Perceptions Positive
- When you see a mistake in the making: Be careful not to diagnose your opponent. Instead of dismissing their approach, try saying, “Here’s what’s at risk if we proceed.”
- If you’re asked to “help out” a friend: Rather than lament about how busy you are, propose two kinds of assistance by asking, “Is this a favor or billable?”
- In a crisis situation: Never respond with “No comment.” Be proactive, not defensive. Say, “We are gathering facts so we fully understand what has happened (or what needs to happen), and we will communicate more as soon as we can.”
- If you’ve missed a deadline: Be authentic and apologetic: “I intended to have this to you as scheduled and, while there were issues beyond my control, the fact is I should have allocated more time to the project. I’ll be more diligent going forward.”
- When you don’t want to hire a vendor: Call them right away and say, “We’ve decided not to move forward and here’s why.” You don’t have to divulge every detail behind your decision, but they’ll feel better if they get at least one reason.
- If someone attacks your character or work: Even a simple “I don’t feel that’s an accurate remark” will suffice in a pinch.
- When you need your team to give you the painful truth: Be open to all of their feedback. Say, “I like it when you share good news with me. But if you see problems brewing, please tell me about them. It will help all of us.”
- If a coworker takes credit for your work: Don’t stoop to their level. Say, “I want to clear up a potential misunderstanding about how my contributions to this project are being conveyed.”
- When dealing with a Negative Nelly: Emphasize the positive. Try saying, “I need your help. We’re behind on the project and I know that everyone is more productive when morale is up. So let’s think of all the good work we’re doing and focus on that. I can’t do it without you.”
Before you act . . .
Take time to choose your words carefully. And remember that it’s easy to influence perceptions when you tell the truth considerately and take both sides of the story into account.