Stop Making Your Opponents’ Case For Them!

Many of our clients are nice people. Really nice people.

So when someone says something they disagree with, they’re careful not to shoot that person’s idea down too harshly. They prefer to temper their feedback, validate the other person, and respond with statements such as:

“That’s a really interesting idea, Bob.”

“You know, I think we should continue to explore that further.”

“We should definitely put that on the list of possibilities.”


But they can get in a lot of trouble when they bring that same diplomacy to a media interview. For example, in a typical conversation, they might say:

“Sure, our competitor’s product has some nice bells and whistles, but we believe our product is overwhelmingly superior.”


But a reporter might choose to quote only a small portion of their response:

“Our competitor’s product has some nice bells and whistles.”


My advice to avoid the more diplomatic language might sound obvious. But it’s a major challenge for spokespersons who feel uncomfortable presenting their side of an argument without acknowledging that the other side has merits as well.

Fortunately, most reporters won’t take such liberties with your quote. But some will, and I’ve seen dozens of examples of similar quotes throughout my career.

So stop validating the other side. Let your opponents make their own cases for themselves. Use your quote to advocate solely for your own point-of-view, and save the diplomacy for the parts of your life that don’t involve the media.

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