Breaking News! Trust can be eroded when we forget the importance of integrity.
Have you ever called a business; maybe your dentist or your hairdressers and clearly got through to a call centre, who the business have outsourced to handle their calls? It’s quite a smart tactic on the business owner’s part, ensuring they capture all of the potential incoming sales. However, what really irritates me is when the person answering the phone pretends to be from or even based at the actual business itself. Desire the fact you know your dentist employs just three people, you can hear hundreds of people chatting in the background and their keyboards all clattering away.
Perhaps you’ve had a sales call at home and the person has been all chatty and pally with you, like you were rekindling some sort of long forgotten moment of friendship. That lack of sincerity and humanity really annoys me and I know it annoys some of you, too, because you tell me! Attempts to get on side with people happen all the time and yet, they often don’t have the affect intended.
This is a classic example, which happened to me just a few weeks ago. You might have heard me on the radio, or seen me on television. Of course, you might not have done either but in order for this post to make sense, I’m going to pull back the curtain and offer you a glimpse into the reality of appearing on radio and television and at the same time, hopefully, provide an opportunity to enhance the impact you make on others.
You see, when a radio station or television channel need someone to comment on a news story, or have an item of interest, which they think you would be the ideal person to respond to or interview about, they, perhaps unsurprisingly, call that person up; or in my case they call my management. Invariably, as is the reality of topical news, that call comes in fairly last minute in response to whatever the news is and if I’m not readily available to talk with them right there and then (which I’m often not), they’ll ask me to call them back. Naturally, they need someone to interview or comment to help liven up the news and vary the pace and tone so it’s more interesting to listen to or watch and what if I don’t get their message until much later and miss the deadline? What if I just don’t bother returning their call? These are, of course, understandable concerns the researcher has and so they move on to someone else, in an attempt to find someone else relevant to be interviewed. Quite often there will be more than one researcher making these calls for people to drop what they’re doing and appear on radio or television, so there are multiple cals happening and messages being left, for people to appear.
Now that’s all understandable and above board but here comes the interesting bit. When I find time to call them back, they may occasionally apologise that they no longer need me as they’ve confirmed with someone else, and I appreciate that very much as it saves my time and everyone knows where they stand. They don’t have to field my communication and I can go back to my work. However, as happened recently, when I call back and go through the many questions the researcher has and lengthy conversation about the topic so that they can gauge that I’m not drunk, off my face on prescription medication or unable to string a coherent sentence together, the researcher becomes very excited that I’d be perfect to appear and they’re very keen to have me on their show… then there will come an awkward, clumsy part of the conversation where the researcher is obviously being given information by someone else; perhaps another researcher or the editor, that they’ve found someone else, or already confirmed someone else. Instead of saying that, the researcher will hurriedly have to put the phone down and apologise for needing to call me back in a moment and when they do, they tell me this (and it’s always this same line): “Hello, Jez? I’m sorry but we’ve had some breaking news so we won’t be needing you for that story as we have to cover this new breaking story”…
That’s fine and I sometimes will tune in, anticipating to see a building collapse with hundreds trapped, or a lottery winner who has bought all of Oxford Street, or a cat that’s been found who looks like Lloyd Grossman, or the Prime Minister who is about to declare war but instead… nothing. Nothing that’s breaking at all. Ever. It was just an attempt to get on side with me so they could ditch the call.
You see, we know when someone isn’t telling the truth and although there are a number of things you can look out for, such as pupil dilation, a change in their normal communication pattern, speeding up over words, touching of the face and an awkwardness about their body language, the most significant thing we all can experience is a lack of sincerity and humanity. The problem when we experience this is that all trust and honesty that has been built with that individual is eroded. We can maintain relationships and in fact strengthen them by admitting when we don’t know an answer, haven’t got the required skills or by offering a truthful response. Because it demonstrates your humanity and, as the old sales cliche goes: people buy people.