by Peter Watts
Ann Romney’s “you people” comments have today offered a privileged insight into the potential First Lady’s thoughts about the world beyond Planet Romney. Far more importantly however, they have given the rest of us (us people?) a reminder that despite our best efforts, our true attitudes towards our audiences will always, eventually, come out!
For those of you people yet to see the headlines, Ann blew a gasket today as she defended husband Mitt’s continued refusal to disclose his tax records.
“We’ve given you people all you need to know about our financial situation.”
The contempt implied by those two phrases “you people” and “all you need to know” made the internet light-up like the London Olympics, an event at which Mrs Romney is about to have one of her race horses competing.
Ann Romney is normally so word-perfectly on cue that it’s almost scary. So what went wrong for impeccably word-perfect Ann? How did the mask manage to drop with quite such a resounding thud?
It’s because even if we don’t necessarily like our audiences, it is a pre-requisite that at the very least we find it in ourselves to genuinely respect them. If we can’t command even this most basic level of common ground with the people we are addressing, then the truth of our contempt will always find its way out.
It might not come with the full power flourish demonstrated by Mrs Romney, but at the very least it will manifest through non-verbal behaviors and attitude, and audiences are super-sensitive to the tiniest hints of condescension, disrespect, or arrogance. High handed haughtiness is never a way to win friends and influence people.
Whenever you are speaking, or engaging in any activity that involves an audience, check-in with your own emotional state first.
What are you feeling towards the audience?
Is it positive?
If it can’t be positive, then at the very least, make it respectful.