The spirit or the letter of the law? [for those who enjoy rugby]
Have you ever sent an email to your boss that contained words like, “If I don’t hear back by 3pm, I will assume it is approved”? If you have done – or worse, if you continue to do so – I would strongly advise against this tactic. While you may think this type of approach covers your back, all it does it rile up your manager, as you are forcing your timeline on them. More experienced staff aren’t likely to do this. They’ve probably been burnt before. Like me.
As in many things, it is not really what is technically allowable that matters; it is what is acceptable practise. Take the Italian rugby team last weekend at Twickenham. Their ‘no-ruck’ strategy was within the rules, but as you could tell from England’s winning coach Eddie Jones afterwards, it was unacceptable to him, and to many in the world of rugby. No doubt the rules will be changed in the near future.
The lesson we can learn in the Communications world is simple: don’t do what you can get away with; do what is the right thing. If you cross the line too often, you will get a bad reputation, which will make it harder for you to be trusted.
But when is it OK to break the rules? When the rules are either inappropriate or result in unnecessary harm to your clients. If you were driving your ailing grandmother to the hospital, sticking to the speed limit would not be top of mind, for example. Technically wrong, but in the right spirit. Gunning your new Porsche through a country village at 60mph and then screeching to a halt outside the local pub. That’s a different matter.
Sounds simple? But as my fellow Communicators know, the line is grey and often quite blurred. So the best barometer of the right thing to do is the old-fashioned one: does it feel right? And would you be happy if someone did this to you? A lot of the time that is enough to make you think twice before taking action.
Main image: CREDIT:REUTERS