For Crying Out Loud (AKA Showing Emotion At Work)

This past week, NBC’s Today Show featured a segment about John Boehner, the future Speaker of the House, and his tendency to cry over spilled milk…and legislation…and kids on a playground at school.  Then, on the Tonight Show, comedian Jack Black shared a song he had written for his two young boys letting them know that it’s okay to cry.

The long held belief that trotting out emotion at work is a big “no-no” may be (slowly) changing; it has become increasingly more common for public figures to whip out a hanky at the drop of a hat. But, congressmen and celebrities notwithstanding: In most cases, we still recommend keeping your emotions at bay while at work.
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THE CAUTIONARY TALE CALLED KANYE

Kanye should thank his lucky stars for Prince William and Kate Middleton.  Their engagement shifted the spotlight from his most recent media meltdown to better tidings for sure.   But since we all can’t count on a royal betrothal to move the white-hot spotlight off of any mistakes we make in interviews or simple conversation, here are few things that we can all learn from Kanye’s toe-to-toe on the Today Show (not to mention his crazy stage-crashing at the VMAs last year — that could be an entirely different post!):

Don’t be defensive.
Kanye’s interview took a turn for the worse once he imagined that Matt Lauer (and the rest of the Today Show team) had plotted against him. Let’s clarify something right off the bat: News shows often run tape while guests are speaking in studio. Watch the morning shows; you’ll see many, many examples. This is not done as a “gotcha” or to elicit emotion. It’s done to refresh the audience’s memory and to tell the full story. In any case, Kanye went on the defensive and thus derailed what could have been a positive media moment for him.

Be authentic.
Being authentic is the best way to rehabilitate a reputation, sway opinion and change perception. Kanye wanted to do all those things by appearing on the Today Show to apologize to former President Bush for ill-thought-out statements made about Hurricane Katrina. Instead, his interview (and subsequent Twitter rants) reveal his actual need to be right vs. his stated desire to make amends.

Be clear and concise.
Being crystal clear about your goals for the conversation, interview or what-have-you will help you avoid going South like West. Even if the interviewer tries to lead you astray (or, in Kanye’s case runs “unexpected” video while you’re speaking), focusing on your key messages will help you communicate what you want in the most effective way.

Listen to the counsel of others.
As many public figures do, Kanye had hired a highly seasoned, well-respected media trainer to prepare him for this important interview. Instead of following the trainer’s advice, Kanye lost focus, forgot what she taught him and subsequently did significant damage to his already hurting image. His crash-and-burn scenario doesn’t need to be yours. Above all, when it comes to negotiating challenging situations, it’s always good to ask for — and listen to — counsel from those who have been there, done that.

Now we like Kanye’s music as much as the next person but his behavior in the media has actually made us wish we didn’t know the man behind the beats.  Who else do you think could use a trainer to help his/her image?   Tell us so at Twitter (@bestpublicist) or Facebook.