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Jenn's main blog

Sensationalism versus the truth

Jenn Shallvey

My post comes from the fresh experience of doing some research on a new job.

Whenever I work with a business client I like to learn as much as I can about their business. I feel almost like a curious detective wanting to know the whole story in the shortest amount of time. (This is part me and part being an ex auditor :-))

What is available today to understand a business is unquantifiable given the power of the internet and Google. A simple question typed in produces a rich bounty of information far exceeding that usually contained on the company website.

In exploring the various resources available I came across some less than desireable stories. Yet based on my connection with the person representing this business I can not see the truth in these stories. Instead I see people taking advantage of a few individuals wanting to seek revenge and then sensationalise the situation with onesided opinions.

So, what is the value of this easily available extra information? Is it relevant? Is it factual or opinion.

The reader has a lot of responsibility to be discerning. When faced with yet another sensationalist story it is up to the reader to stand back and look at the situation objectively.

So what stories are out there that you do not want said about you, your business? Are they true? Are they false? How do you defend yourself?

It amazes me the resilience of those in the public eye who must hold their head up high amongst a raft of speculation, allegation, heresay. At what level is their perspective ever really heard?

And what if there is some truth? Are any of us guilty of being the pot calling the kettle black? I think we need to do some pretty hard self examination before we decide to blast someone else's character or their company with words. Once the words are out there they can't be taken back. Even worse, once they are in print or online, they are logged in history.

My personal response to people inclined to go down the sensationalism route is the following.

1. Ask yourself if you would want this type of story said about you?

2. Consider how you have given the person on the other side a chance to speak before writing them off.

3. Say what you want in private, then step back and consider the emotion and remove it.

4. Put as much energy and effort in creating a pretend response to see what it would look like. Then filter for the truth.

5. Ultimately ask yourself why do YOU need to write or say what you are saying? What is YOUR motivation?

6. Lastly, the truth is what matters.

So where does this fit into your life?

Well I believe that sensationalism starts with a conversation. You know, the kind we have behind someone elses back. When you start saying something opinionated about someone that you have to whisper or hope that no one hears you are moving away from truth. Even agreeing with someone and not saying anything is implied consent when it comes to bad mouthing someone.

For example, you get an email about someone, don't like its contents, what do you do? Delete? Tell the person not to send such emails? Tell the person that they should not say what they say?

Consider then before your speak or write bad or ill of someone why you feel the need to say what you say. Consider what place you are coming from inside of yourself that drives the need to lash out. Then pull back and see them in a different light and practice understanding. If what you have to say is still necessary then imagine or even better have the conversation with that person in a balanced way rather than resorting to sensationalism and bringing people into the situation before it is resolved.

One last thing. I am not claiming to be perfect in this regard. However I do practice high awareness and try to remain as conscious as I can in all situations so as not to move towards the sensationalism side of the spectrum.

The truth is ultimately best for all. Next to that, the chance in private to make amends, forgive, learn and move on and let go of the past.

Let's go there...

Jenn