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Good Communications Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

BY IN BLOG On 11-02-2014

MV5BMTI0NzEwMDYwM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzkyNDgxMQ@@._V1_SY317_CR3,0,214,317_The tag line for the sappy 1970 movie, Love Story, was “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

Good executive communications means never having to say you’re sorry, too.  Perhaps a lot of MBA candidates cut class the day that lesson was taught at business school.  The latest high visibility apologizer is Tim Armstrong, the AOL CEO whose penchant for speaking first and thinking second has made him fodder for late night comedians more than once.  His latest blunder was blaming two at-risk premature babies born to AOL families for changing the way 401(k) corporate contributions would be made (a change that would save AOL money, but severely penalize employees). It seems, , in Armstrong’s elegant turn of phrase, saving the babies lives “cost” the company a million dollars each. (Mr. Armstrong takes home $12 million a year in salary and an appreciable bonus on top of that, so his carping about saving the babies at company expense is all the more apology-worthy.) But, as this column by Andrew Ross Sorkin in the New York Times makes clear, Armstrong is not alone.  Two basic messages of our media training workshops are:

Know what you want to say before you say it.

Consider the consequences of HOW you say it.

In other words, think first, speak second, and not visa versa.

If you want a quick refresher on Armstrong’s other gaffes, they are listed in this CNN Money story.




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George Merlis

George Merlis is the founder and president of Experience Media Consulting. He is an award-winning veteran print and broadcast journalist who has been doing media training, presentation training and crisis communications consulting for more than two decades. He has been day city editor of the nation's largest-circulation afternoon newspaper and executive producer of two of the three network morning news programs, Good Morning American and the CBS Morning News. He also served as executive producer of Entertainment Tonight.

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