What a PR Expert Taught Me About Dealing with Problems
Are you anything like me, and find yourself experiencing Foot-in-Mouth Syndrome at least once daily? You know the scenario: You say something without putting it through a filter first, then spend the next five minutes asking yourself on loop, “Dear GOD, why did I just say that? I’m a real idiot.”
When life deals you a blow and it seems like you’re struggling to figure out your next move, sometimes it helps to call in an expert.
We don’t all have access to someone who literally manages crises for a living, but I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with a woman who fixes crises for a living.
Sara Brady’s job is to step in when problems happen, making sure that her clients stay calm and get their message across to the media (when needed) in the most efficient and measured way possible.
But the work she does goes well beyond managing major crises; it’s applicable in daily life, too.
For anyone who feels like she’s said the completely wrong thing at the wrong time (HELLO! I’m Sonni, nice to meet you), the advice of someone like Sara is indispensable.
First, a little backstory on Sara: She’s worked with clients involved in some of the biggest news stories you’ve seen in the past few years.
She worked with a family who experienced the worst tragedy possible–the death of a child. Lane Graves was just a toddler when he was killed in a gator attack on a Disney property. Sara worked with the Graves family in setting up a charitable foundation that now helps save other children by connecting them with resources for life-saving organ transplants.
She also represented the owner of Pulse nightclub, the scene of a mass shooting in Orlando, helping her establish a charitable foundation that is aimed at creating a permanent memorial in honor of the victims.
On top of all of this, she has this energy that is just so insanely calming. She’s the type of person whose voice alone could calm down the most stressed-out person. (Great trait for someone whose job it is to smooth things over!)
So here it is–the one piece of advice that Sara gave me during this interview that I think is applicable to anyone who’s been in a tough spot: Stop talking.
That’s it. Just… stop talking.
No explaining, no justifying, no blathering, no whining. Just. Stop. Talking.
It makes so much sense, right? When something goes wrong, our instinct so many times is to talk. We want to explain away, to keep going, until we convince someone of our viewpoint.
But let’s be honest: When does that tactic actually work? Not very frequently.
And what happens when we stop talking? Usually, it means we listen more. It also means we sharpen our own understanding of what has happened. And with reflection comes a greater understanding, and therefore a better grip on where to go next.
I’m not going to lie; this is going to be difficult advice for me to take. I’m someone whose first instinct is always to question and