Another day in paradise? It’s all in how you spin it

Soft SkillsLet’s face it, we all spin – if just a little.

If it’s already good, we put a better spin on it.

If it’s bad, we spin it back to good, or as close as we can make it.

We spin at work, rest, or play. It’s all in how you spin it.

We fine tune our communication to make things appear as we want them to be perceived, or to make our decisions seem somewhat more valuable, even when they are lousy.

Good managers spin daily.

“There is a reason for that bad decision I made,” a supervisor would never really say out loud, but is thinking. “Allow me to explain.”

I Dare You
Spin, when done well, alters reality. Bad spin is always snaky and untrustworthy, or so argues Michael McKinney, at LeadingBlog.

“Good spin is never a lie. It’s always on the level,” McKinney says. “It’s designed to highlight the positive and the uplifting. It opens us up to possibilities that were not readily apparent to us.”

And bad spin?

“It misleads and exaggerates,” he says. “It’s opportunistic; designed to benefit the spinner. It distorts reality and narrows our possibilities. It’s short term thinking. It may benefit us in the moment but it spoils us in the future.”

Now that does sound rather righteous, does it not? Good spin is always good. Bad spin is always bad.

But it’s really not all that simple, at least not in the real-life situations where most of us live and work. Things there are a bit more gray.

The spin I see (and use) is more accurately described in the Precise Edit Blog.

“Spin is used to make good news seem bad or unimportant, or to make potentially unpleasant information seem more acceptable.”

But this is the part I really like: “You will have to decide for yourself whether or not this is ethical.”

It’s much better that the value of the spin be in the eye of the beholder.

Here is a great example of that.

Bad spin. The client was angry that we missed our deadline.

You’d probably agree there is nothing good in that statement.

Good spin: The client was not pleased by the time needed to produce quality work.

Now that is a very different way of looking at it. Good things come from hard work, and patience is a virtue, after all.

Unethical? Snaky and untrustworthy? You could argue it’s a bit cynical, unless it happens to be true.

Here’s another good example.

Not long ago one of our very best younger employees left us for what appeared to him to be a great opportunity with greener pastures.

Nine months later he was on the phone asking to come back, something we were more than willing to consider, given his good track record.

During his “return” interview, while he was talking about his change of mind, he said, “This looked like a dream job opportunity I always wanted to try. But it was different than what I thought it would be. Now that I’ve had that adventure, I want to come back to what I was really good at.”

Later that day, I was thinking about the way he’d spun his situation.

He emphasized something anyone could relate to: “I always wanted to chase my dreams” rather than “I am a complete flake who will jump ship on any new whimsy.”

So, which way did he really spin it? A non-denial denial? A non-apology apology? Mistakes were made?

At the end of the day it didn’t matter because, for someone who could spin it straight like that, his old job was his for the asking.

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  1. When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox
    and now each time a comment is added I get four emails
    with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?
    Bless you!

    • Mattie,

      go to the email that you are receiving…. at the bottom of that email should be an UNSUBSCRIBE link…. you may need to unsubscribe to all 4 that you are receiving (don’t know why you are getting 4…)… that feature is a product of WordPress and I don’t have control of it.

      good luck,

      John Walston

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