I Won't Charge Don Imus For This Advice!

by Ken Okel - Date: 2007-04-24 - Word Count: 378 Share This!

Who would have thought a year ago that Don Imus, Mel Gibson, and Michael Richards would find themselves drowning in a negative sea of publicity over something they said. Worse yet, many said their initial apology wasn't genuine.

I hope you never put your foot in your mouth and offend someone or a group. But if you do, here are some tips for damage control. These suggestions are for verbal mistakes. A slightly different series of rules apply for written gaffes.

Admit and own up to your mistake. If you said something that you know is wrong, then you should have no problem immediately apologizing. Everyone knows what it's like to have something come the wrong way and regret it. They'll likely identify with your situation and cut you some slack. This doesn't work if you don't regret your offensive remark. People can pick up on insincerity very easily.

Don't try to tread water and talk your way out of the situation with excuses. Avoid blaming your audience for not having a sense of humor, the person who made you say the remark, or a dark secret in your past. These are stall tactics by someone who does not want to admit they're wrong

Set the context. Here you can talk about the circumstances surrounding your insensitive comment but don't point fingers at anyone. You might say, "I was trying to be clever and obviously I showed bad taste

You could also introduce a more personal element by saying something like, "I've had a lot on my mind lately and I didn't think about what I said." In this case, you don't talk much about what's been on your mind because then you're putting the blame on a problem (a sick relative, a messy breakup, or out of control kids) instead of accepting responsibility for your remarks.

Move on! Sometimes you can say too much when apologizing. "Some of my best friends are 'XYZ'," may be true but it sounds like an excuse.

If your comment was an innocent mistake, treat it like one. Spending too much time talking about it magnifies the issue. Don't overcompensate by saying that you'll turn your life upside down to ensure it never happens again. Personal growth is good but keep it private. Otherwise, it sounds like an excuse.

Related Tags: forgiveness, publicity, media, negative, mistake, genuine, apology, gaffe

Ken Okel is a communications expert who uses real life broadcasting experiences to help successful organizations communicate better, reduce stress, and laugh more. For his free newsletter and special report, 7 Communication Mistakes that are Costing You Money, go to http://www.kenokel.com/

Contact Ken at 561) 737-4321 or email TVGuy@kenokel.com to reserve your program date or to find out more.

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