Sunday, January 25, 2009

Everyday Crises

Maybe it has to do with the crisis communication case studies I’ve looked at throughout my career as a PR major, but I’m a firm believer that any situation can be saved if it is handled appropriately. After two incidents this week, I’ve been thinking about how this can be applied to every day life, not just huge corporate disasters.

  • First incident: I bartend downtown, and a few nights ago a friend left without paying his tab. Toward the end of the night I reminded him to pay it and he said he was coming right back… which he never did. Since we literally couldn’t close down the registers without having that tab paid, I called around 2 a.m. (when the bar closed) to see what was going on. He had already left downtown and had no recollection of even opening a tab. That’s fine, people get drunk and forget things, I get it. However, he proceeded to yell at me and call me mean names. I just assumed this was because he was drunk, but I got more angry texts the next day, accusing me of overreacting and blaming me for everything that had happened. Do I care if someone walks out on a tab? Not particularly. What bothered me was getting yelled at and blamed for something that wasn’t my fault.

  • Second incident: Our neighbors asked if they could borrow our vacuum cleaner, which I of course agreed to (I should have known better when they followed the request with… “Ours is clogged and our floors are disgusting!”… but by then it was two late). They promised to bring it back as soon as they were done, but by the next afternoon we still had no vacuum cleaner. So I went over to see what was up and they ignored the doorbell. I could see all of their cars outside, not to mention hear them talking through the extremely thin walls of our duplex. After quite a few tries at the doorbell, some guy (that didn’t live there) finally came to the door looking confused so we just went in and took the vacuum cleaner back. Sure enough, when we tested it out it was broken. One of the girls ran over to explain (“we weren’t sure what to do, we were going to come over yesterday… but we never did”). Was I mad they had broken my $200 vacuum cleaner? Absolutely, but what I was more annoyed about was the fact that they apparently weren’t planning to do anything to fix the situation anytime soon. Had they come over as soon as it happened, explained, and apologized it would have been fine. 

Lessons in every day crisis communications: Take responsibility for your actions and apologize when you have done something wrong.

Aaaand that concludes my rant

1 comment:

  1. Jessica; if crisis comms is your interest, remember to check out for ongoing updates. Best regards, Gerry