Oh what a year of etiquette hits and misses! It’s been quite amusing, but as always, we can learn a lot from those in the limelight:
Earlier this year Charlie Sheen usurped much of the media airwaves with his outlandish behavior. There is so much to draw from when it comes to Sheen’s past, but his biggest blunders this year were arriving to work with a disheveled appearance, not being able to deliver lines, and insulting “Two and a Half Men” co-creator, Chuck Lorre. Following that messy series of events, Sheen continued his offensive rants in multiple television appearances for several weeks. In a nutshell, his behavior was unprofessional. No matter what industry you work in, if you are getting paid to do a job (and in this case, getting paid big bucks), then you have an obligation to your employer to perform your duties and be somewhat cooperative. Although he thought he was winning, Mr. Sheen was seriously LOSING!
As a public relations professional, I have to raise this next affront to proper etiquette. The Robin Roberts ambush of Chris Brown on “Good Morning America” was ugly. Industry standard dictates that whenever a guest is invited to appear on a talkshow, they are to be presented with a set of talking points or topics that will be addressed during the interview. Roberts insisted that Brown was given the heads up that she would touch on issues related to his violent acts against his former girlfriend, Rihanna. She might be telling the truth. The problem is she decided to try to earn another journalistic notch on her belt by badgering Brown with questions on this topic quite some time after the incident occurred, after the media ran the story into the ground, after he apologized, after he attended anger management, after he expressed that he was invited to discuss his new album and move forward… Shame on Roberts for trying to take advantage of the situation and then pretend she was innocent. LOSING.
Apparently, the Bank of America corporation known as Countrywide thought it was alright to discriminate against Latinos and African Americans. From 2004 to 2007, the bank charged higher interest rates to qualified borrowers who happened to be black or Latino and thought they would get away with it. Well it caught up to them and this year they are dishing out a $335 million settlement to victims of their discriminatory practices. There is no question that the big bad bank is LOSING.
There is Republican presidential candidate, Ron Paul, who walked out in the middle of a CNN interview last week because he was questioned about his racist newsletters from the 1980s and 1990s. Understandably, it gets tiring being repeatedly asked the same questions about the same issues you’ve already publicly addressed. However, you have to understand that when you are running for a high profile position and you have insulted an entire race, people will keep inquiring. If you want their votes, you will keep answering or you need to find a smart way to refocus the conversation around topics you want to discuss. By no means was it acceptable for Paul to storm out of that interview. He might think he’s winning because of recent polls, but in protocol he’s LOSING.
Finally, President Barack Obama has ended the Iraq War. This is a relief to many families across America who had loved ones serving in the war, my family included. Although President Obama is late, we are glad he finally fulfilled his campaign promise of bringing our troops home. That’s always good for business. With this gesture, he is WINNING!
So our etiquette/protocol lessons from 2011 are:
1. Don’t act out at work.
2. Avoid ambushing your guests.
3. Racial and ethnic discrimination is wrong and costly.
4. Fulfill your promises.