Words Can Break or Seal the Deal

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Don Imus' choice of words broke his radio and TV deals -- along with the hearts of some accomplished young women, says Judy Jernudd, former TV Talk Show personality. To Jernudd, how you deliver a message is the holy grail of teaching for some communication coaches. Jernudd provides 5 tips to prevent anyone from saying something they wish they could take back.

"Words can make or break the deal" -- and most corporate executives know that principal, says Judy Jernudd, CEO of Startegic Communication. Popular radio host Don Imus proved it this week. In the aftermath of his damaging statement about the Rutgers women's basketball team, MSNBC broke his cable TV show deal. CBS Radio followed by canceling Imus in the Morning.

Jernudd provides 5 tips to prevent anyone from saying something they wish they could take back.

"Word choices, not the tonality or demeanor, can destroy or heal. Mel Gibson, Michael Richards and Imus proved that the no matter what tone they expressed would have diluted the damaging message," said Jernudd.

"Yes, what Imus said was demeaning, but it raises awareness once again to the erosion of acceptable language. Words are the victim of abuse in our music, on the airways, in our schools and socially," says Jernudd. "There are presentation coaches who teach "it isn't what you say, but how you say it."

While tonality and demeanor help messages come together for believability, how Mel Gibson, Michael Richards or Imus expressed themselves would not have diluted their message, said Jernudd.

"What you say is the heart of it. Word choices are the real issue," says Jernudd, a former TV Talk Show personality, who has coached hundreds of executives in effective communications.

What to do?

  • Keep in mind what comes out of your mouth can destroy or heal.
  • Words hurt. Choose them thoughtfully.

-Resist playing to what you think will be perceived as funny, cool or hip.

  • Ask yourself if what you intend to say will come out the way you mean it?
  • Engage your brain with your mouth before you open it.

Gibson, Richards and Imus are not the first people to get in trouble over racial or debilitating word choices, but what if the CEO, or anyone of us, speaks the wrong words? Apologize immediately and mean it. Do whatever it takes to make amends with the wronged parties, sooner than later. Will all be forgiven?

"For the most part, we're a nation of forgiving people," says Jernudd, "once."    

Contact: Startegic at 310.306.6999

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