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  • Writer's pictureL. Darryl Armstrong

Spokespeople Must Have Integrity and Class

Being a "spokesperson," or these days better known sadly as a "spinmaster, publicist, or apologist," is at best a challenging and daunting position.

Having been a "spokesperson" at one time in my life, I had to make a difficult decision in 1979 when asked by a superior to read a message that was not entirely truthful and laden with government tech-speak to confuse the listeners.

My manager ordered me to forgo my integrity, reputation, and all the hard-earned trust and credibility we had built for the project over seven years. In essence, salute, and read "the damn statement!"

I left that position and never questioned my decision. However, don't read into this; that was an easy decision. The decision came at a difficult time in my personal life. In reflection, it was the best possible decision for my life and led me to study behavioral sciences to understand better why people behave as they do.

In 1979, I began to pay close attention to spokespeople at the White House as I had aspirations to emulate the best of the best as a communicator.

Over the years, I found a commonality among such diverse political spectrum Press Secretaries as Jody Powell, James Brady, Tony Snow, Dana Perino, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Kayleigh McEnany.

Each of these professionals had class.

I share what I mean by that statement. I suggest the following is what makes the difference between a "hack and publicist" and a "spokesperson" with integrity.

Spokespeople with class never run scared. They are confident in what they say and how they say it. They can handle whatever comes along and do so without arrogance or sarcasm.

Spokespeople with class have a sense of humor and can laugh at themselves. They know that a good laugh is the best lubricant for oiling the machinery of human relations.

These professionals never make excuses. They take their lumps and learn from their past mistakes. When they make a mistake, they own up to it.

Such spokespeople understand good manners are nothing more than a series of small, inconsequential sacrifices.

These professionals bespeak an "aristocracy" with nothing to do with their ancestors or money. Some wealthy "blue bloods" have no class, while some individuals struggling to make ends meet have an excess.

Spokespeople with class are authentic. They don't "fake it, to make it."

They are comfortable in their skin and never put on airs.

They never try to build themselves up by tearing others down. These spokespeople need not strive to look better by making others look worse.

Spokespeople of this caliber can "walk with kings and keep its virtue, talk with crowds, and keep the common touch." Thank you, Rudyard Kipling.

Everyone is comfortable with the person who has such class because they are comfortable with themselves.

You've got it made if you are such a spokesperson and have class. If you don't have class, it doesn't make any difference no matter what else you have.

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