It happens every day in the workplace. Those “sticky dilemmas.” You encounter them all the time in marketing … like the CEO who wants to do his own TV spot when he is not only unattractive (that could be fixed) but comes off as deceptive in front of the camera (that would take a long time to fix).
How did I know? When you’re a PR account executive, it’s your job to know.
Is it your job to say so?
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Well you aren’t going to find this in the textbook. It’s about emotional intelligence (EQ) and etiquette. It helps to learn the theory and how to apply it, because no textbook, no coach, can possibly anticipate all the surprises you will encounter even in one day.
The video of the latest multicultural blunder, when US photographer Annie Liebovitz asked the Queen of England to remove her crown in a photography session can be found on youtube.com. Some are labeling it “the BBC’s groveling apology.”
I don’t agree that it’s a “groveling” apology, I thought I was in order. The tape was grossly misleading. The scene implies she stormed out. It is, instead, tape of her arrival. That’s the media for you.
That having been said, if you were photographing the Queen of England, would you tell her to take off her crown? In a line too good to have been scripted, the Queen replies, “What do you think this is?”
Quite a multicultural SNAFU here. Annie Leibovitz, hired to photograph the Queen, asks her to remove the crown (ever how nicely), telling her it would be more “casual.” Well, yes, that it would.
And British commentators are quick to tell us that every Brit would know it wasn’t a crown in the first place, it was a tiara. The crown is a little hard to miss.
Why quibble. In any situation, with any person, there is simply “going too far,” and that’s what happened here.
This sort of sticky dilemma comes up every day in the workplace. Actually at home, too (Do you think these pants make my butt look fat?)
1. You’ve been asked by the lawyer you work for to critique his jury summary. It stinks. What do you say?
2. Your secretary’s body odor is so bad you can’t stand to be in the same room with her.
3. Would you edit the CEO’s article for grammar? For content? His opinion that “no Asian woman can be trusted with…”?
4. Give negative feedback about anything to a “superior”? Even if it’s your job? Even if you’ve been requested to?
5. Ask your Middle Eastern visitor to remove his head covering in the presence of the ladies?
6. Tell them you don’t go to strip clubs, even if it’s the fantastic dream corporation taking you out to court you for your dream job?
7. No on will go to the CFO’s office. He’s asking you why. Do you tell him that it’s because he picks his nose in public?
8. Inform your boss that you find her cleavage and spandex unprofessional as well as tasteless?
9. Ask your French Moroccan printer if he’d like some bacon? Ask him if you can bring your wife along for the evening?
10. Ask someone in your office to quit swearing?
TAKE HOME POINTS
(1)These dilemmas come up all the time. As we become more global, it’s going to get worse. There area host of things you can do, innocently, that may offend the person you’re dealing with, that it would sure help if you knew about beforehand, from the dignitary whose wife has just died to the Asian who doesn’t want a dozen anything for his thank you gift.
(2)There are many chances for misrepresentation, not just from the media. Check out the facts before you jump to conclusions. Use your common sense. The Queen of England would no more “storm out” of a room than your CEO would walk out of his office if you offended him. Would your secretary, who has proven herself to be honest and faithful over time, botch a document just to get overtime, like the gossipy paralegal whose been written up before is claiming?
(3) Don’t like the protocol? Think it’s silly? They don’t. That tiara happens to be a symbol for the monarchy.
Etiquette and emotional intelligence are important to you personal and professoinal success for some many reasons! Besides, they made the world a nicer place.
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