The Whole Truth - Focusing on the Positive
I was 16 when I got my first rejection for a job.
I stopped at my local movie theater and asked for an application to work there. When I had mentioned this intention to a friend of mine, she cautioned me: “They will give you a questionnaire to fill out. Be careful… it has trick questions to try to figure out if you’re lying.” (This was long before “perjury trap” became a thing… but I digress.)
I remember being a little confused about what I could be lying about on a job application but when they handed me the questionnaire I was determined to be the paradigm of honesty. I took it too far.
When the survey asked me, “Have you ever stolen anything from a previous employer?” I answered, “No… but I’ve never had a job before so I’ve never had the opportunity.”
I somehow thought I’d get bonus points for being SO forthcoming.
Strangely, I didn’t get the job.
Since then, thankfully, I’ve become a little better at understanding what authenticity really means and how to tell a story without getting bogged down addressing negatives.
When I help organizations develop communications strategies we focus in on what they do well, why they are driven to do it, and why people should care. Yes, you try to anticipate issues or criticism, but you have to avoid the temptation to tilt at windmills, taking on critics or dispelling myths when you don’t really need to.
Trolling is, unfortunately, ubiquitous now. Even stories with the best intentions and positive results can prompt critics to take to social media and cast aspersions. When I was at the University of Minnesota, we could tell a great story about a breakthrough in cancer care only to have someone criticize us because their neighbor’s son didn’t get admitted to the U. Seriously.
It’s awfully tempting to engage when people go negative but I’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, it’s not the right path. Instead we need to focus on taking the high road, telling your story in a positive and truthful way and letting people know who you really are without getting distracted by potential critics. Whether you’re reaching out to potential donors, working to attract new business, or even applying for your first job...that’s how you express your true voice.