coping strategies from a facepalm survivor

Well, that certainly touched a nerve. The post the Four Stages of Comms Facepalm sparked an explosion of comments from people who have had cause to put their hand to their head and go: 'DOH!' at a request from someone. Often senior.

by Kath Hughes

OK so we have all been there, that excruciating moment when you open the ‘poster’ that a well meaning  person has spent a long time creating.  It can’t possibly go out – its crammed with too many complicated words, multiple clip art speech bubbles, and a number of out of proportion logos.   But it needs to go out NOW and you are the one preventing it.

So, what next?  Try this three step guide to cope with moments like this and let me know if it works for you.

Step One

Count to 10.  If it’s via e-mail, don’t respond until you have at least done that.  If its phone or face to face, let them explain while you are counting under your breath and considering how to respond.

Remember you are not alone – look at the stories on comms2point0 and remember that right at this very moment there a comms bods up and down the country experiencing the very same facepalm moment. 

Step Two

Assess how important the request is in terms of your business goals/reputation and act accordingly

Take a step back.  In the grand scheme of things how important is it?  Think about your business priorities, will it prevent you from achieving these?   How much might it impact on your reputation and what is the urgency of the request.

Once you have assessed this, there are four ways to react:

  • ·         High importance/short timescale = damage limitation

What can you feasibly do in the timescale you have?   Concentrate on the aspect that is the most damaging.  Remove the speech bubbles, sort the logo/ change the template?  This will likely involve a compromise.

  • ·         Low importance/short timescale = do nothing 

You can’t win them all.  If the impact is slight, I’m sure there is something else you could be doing that adds more value to your organisation.

  • ·         High importance/longer timecale = diplomatic meeting.

This is where you can add the most value and its worth investing your time in.  Arrange some time to sit down and discuss the ‘issue’ over a cup of tea to find some common ground and a practical solution.

  • ·         Low importance/Longer timescale = diplomatic phone call and/or e-mail

Offer some friendly but professional comms advice backing up your argument with examples.

 Step Three

Share your facepalm moment

Look on the lighter side, laugh and tell a likeminded colleague.  Knowing that others understand really does help.

Kath Hughes is acting head of communications at Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Picture credit.