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January 20, 2018

064 – Communicating Effectively with Critics

When we discuss new technology with the public, there is inevitable fear and push back with at least a fraction of those we are trying to reach. How we address this is critical to our own credibility.  Jay Baer is an author and consultant in customer service and marketing.  He has written the book Hug Your Haters, a book that outlines the value of criticism and the proper ways to address it.  These concepts are especially important in the days of social media. These tips from marketing translate well to science communication, as we attempt to share science with an oftentimes skeptical audience.

Follow Jay at @jaybaer

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3 Comments on 064 – Communicating Effectively with Critics

  1. We were always threatened with, “This will go on your permanent record !”. I can still hear my third grade teacher.

  2. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this
    onto a friend who was conducting a little homework on this.

    And he actually bought me breakfast simply
    because I found it for him… lol. So let me reword this….
    Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending time to talk about
    this topic here on your website.

  3. I don’t really think that dealing with customer complaints equates to dealing with hostile opinions in social media. Customers usually have specific complaints that can be dealt with, for example, with an apology, a gift certificate, a refund, a replacement, etc. On the other hand, the spreading of “fake news” is a malicious act designed to harm a company, a politician or even a scientist. Can one reason with someone whose intention it is to harm you? Does engaging this person in a friendly manner really achieve anything? Doing so might lend credibility to the fake news. Yes, many people are reading the fake news and your response to it. Are these people really impressed with a friendly approach? It could be perceived as weakness. I always try to dial in the tone of my response to the tone of the fake news. If it is obvious that the fake news is being spread by some granny who doesn’t know any better, I try to explain calmly why this is fake news. But if the person is a political operative or anti-science nut who is spreading lies intentionally, I come out with all guns blazing. Being reasonable and friendly didn’t help us avoid Donald Trump. It didn’t help us avoid labeling for GMO products. The spreaders of fake news are doing so out of some kind of personal need: “Look at me! I have important information!” Their ego is rapped up with their fake information. Their ego needs to be deflated or “neutralized.”

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