September 8, 2009...10:48 pm

The Doppler Effect and Other Bad Advice

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The worst advice I ever received working in PR was a communication technique called the “Doppler Effect”.

The story goes like this; a senior professional I worked with at the time was preparing me for a meeting with one of our clients.

Rather than delivering an accurate update on the account, she decided instead to rely on a communication technique she nicknamed the Doppler Effect which, she explained was how bullshit, when delivered at rapid-fire speed, would actually sound like the truth.

I decided on the spot I never wanted to be like that. That was how she chose to conduct herself and I’m sure it worked for her – it would never work for me.

Sure there are other ways of being less than honest on the Internet, but I’m glad that bullshit posted online usually reads like… well, bullshit. This is one way the Internet actually helps keep us honest.

I think we all have experiences like this, but it can be helpful to share them so we know we’re not alone.

It’s sometimes difficult to know when bad advice is bad when we look up to the person dishing it out. Plus, it might just be good for a laugh.

So, what do you say… What’s the worst professional advice you ever received? How does it ultimately make you better at what you do?

Photo by slworking2

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  • The worst professional advice I ever received came in the form of an implied criticism. I was working as an agency intern a few years back and spent a decent amount of time walking around the office talking to different people that I didn’t regularly interact with on projects and daily work. At one point I was talking with a VP who told me, “It seems like you’re always just walking around and talking to people and not really getting work done…”

    This was about a year or two before social media blew up, but I realized later that what I’d been doing was forming and building connections and relationships with people throughout the agency of 60+ people who I’d have never had a chance to talk to otherwise. I knew who was celebrating a birthday, who read comic books (like me) and what kind of candy people enjoyed (which I tried to bring in and offer whenever I thought about it). I was also gathering professional insight and information in ways other people in the agency weren’t. It seemed strange to the VP that I wasn’t “focused” on my work, but really, I was basically preparing myself for a career in social media (just without the social media at that point). I still got work done then conversing and listening – just like I get work done now with Twitter and Facebook open in the background – it simply didn’t appear that way to the VP. Of course, I now realize that, had I taken the implied advice, I probably wouldn’t have kept up my relationship building and wouldn’t have my current career. AND I wouldn’t be working for my current boss (who I met as a result of my “office wandering”). I’d say it’s worked out well so far.

    For some reason, I always leave novel-length comments when I post my thoughts here. Sorry again for that, and thanks for the post/topic, Shannon. It’s a great question.

  • THE worst advice I ever received was from my Manager, and I use the term loosely, when I was a Region Manager working for a Beverage Importing Company. I was based in a city that I moved to for the position, was single and managed several midwestern states. One of his/her favorite phrases was “No news is good news” and he/she applied it to their communication with me. Except of course when he/she visited my market and then criticized the hell out of me because of my selling style and because he/she didn’t know me as a person. His/her other favorite line was,”what part of no did you not understand”. I think this speaks for itself. Needless to say I moved on, which is unfortunate because I liked the products and the company as a whole.

  • The Doppler Effect – I’ll definitely use that one, Shannon, when I smell BS in the future :).

    The worst professional advice I’ve received of late was shared with me by a colleague who told me to focus on my internal/within the company reputation managing up, down and across and that I needed to stop wasting energy on maintaining and growing my industry expertise and reputation within my social web communities. I don’t think there’s an either or on your reputation, well at least for me there isn’t.

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