By Christina Rafael, Photographer/Videographer
In elementary school she ditched you at recess. In junior high she stole your boyfriend. And in high school she blamed you when the teacher caught her cheating. As an adult, well, she’s the friend that you’ve been in a silent fight with for the last three months.
Back in easier times one could choose to just find new friends, move on and better yourself. In the adult world, one where you must network constantly, you’ll need better tactics.
So what do you do when a fight that has been simmering blows up in your face? Well, ladies, you handle your words like a PR professional.
When journalism Professor Morris Brown taught “Introduction to Public Relations,” he gave a simple list of question to answer when introduced to a PR crisis.
What is the problem?
Why is there a problem?
What are the probable causes of the problem?
How serious is the problem?
Who is affected by the problem?
What has been done to solve the problem?
This situation analysis is useful when identifying issues, figuring out if they’re worth fighting over and assessing how you’ve done so far. When dealing with women, it’s best to choose your battles and often admit wrong doing for problems not worth an escalation.
If there is a problem which you’ve personally caused, it’s best to own up to said problem by following a basic to-do list from gigaom.com:
Confess. State what you did. Own up to it. Be clear and candid. Give enough details.
Apologize. Say, “I apologize” — not just, “I’m sorry” — for whatever it is you did.
Rectify. How will you make the current situation better? What are the short-term and reactive measures?
What are the long-term and preemptive steps that will assure this doesn’t happen again — ever?
Seek forgiveness. This is important. Don’t forget to ask for forgiveness from those impacted.
If a situation is not your fault yet becomes thrust upon you, it’s best to tread lightly but stand your ground. Remember that every word can be like stepping in a minefield; you never know what will cause an explosion.
It’s best to approach the offender in a neutral space, like a coffee shop, where things have less ability to reach epic proportions. Once you are able to sit down, have what the industry calls a “truth-room session” with the friend.
During a traditional truth-room session, a consultant tells a client something that's probably true, but not flattering. In a frenemy truth-room session, you’ll need to lay all cards on the table and confront with as little assumptions as possible.
Although these tips help solve most arguments, there comes a time when a friendship has run its course and you must cut ties with the friend. As a PR professional, cutting ties and rebranding is part of the industry and sometimes the best solution after a crisis has been addressed.
Dealing with your frenemy as a PR professional is the best way to keep arguments as classy as possible, leave little backlash to you and the best way to take the high road.
Below are some helpful articles about handling professional or personal crisis management situations.