Thursday, November 17, 2011

Advice for communications advisers: A timely read

Especially in the wake of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal, smart communicators are raising difficult issues with their leaders...and many are wondering whether their advice would be taken in just such a tough circumstance. That's why I was especially happy to see an article that couldn't been more timely for communications directors to read and share.

"Advice for the Adviser," by Tufts University law professor Jeswald Salacuse, targets the negotiator, but the advice works perfectly for communicators, whether you're on staff or a consultant or gun-for-hire. Salacuse offers five rules for advisers. Under "Help, or at least do no harm," he notes an important exception with a great tale:
It’s worth noting as well that on occasion, the best way to help may be to cause a little pain. When Lyndon Johnson was deciding whether to seek reelection in the face of antiwar protests, one advisor told him, “You can run, Mr. President, but the only places you’ll be able to campaign are Fort Bragg and the aircraft carrier Enterprise.” Johnson chose not to run.
The article draws on his book, The Wise Advisor: What Every Professional Should Know About Consulting and Counseling,a paperback (with the Kindle edition here).(My copy's already loaded on the Kindle.) I learned about the book from the very good blog of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, one of my favorite training resources.

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