Bill Clinton shows us how to handle hecklers

A couple days ago, Bill Clinton gave a speech to people supporting his wife’s campaign. Some guy, dressed as a robot, interrupted his talk, demanding an apology for some rapper, and threw papers around. Clinton, in a calm manner, told him “you need to find more environmentally responsible ways to protest” and “you can disagree with me without killing trees.”

Now, Clinton had the audience on his side (he’s obviously very popular among his wife’s supporters), but he did several things right that we can learn from when we’re heckled during a talk:

Mitt Romney – Faith in America

All week, the media has been speculating about Governor Romney’s speech about his religion. Will it hurt him or harm him? Is this the right time for such a speech? Why does he need to give such a speech in the first place?

As someone who has lived in Massachusetts my whole life, I am quite familiar with Mitt Romney. I remember when he came close to taking Ted Kennedy’s senate seat away from him, his talk during the closing ceremony of the Utah Winter Olympics, and his campaign and four-year term as Governor.

Gender, race & religion: The odd media coverage of the 2008 Election

In a recent CIO Insight article, Elizabeth Edwards has an interesting quote about the lack of media coverage for her husband, 2004 Vice Presidential Nominee John Edwards. She states “We can’t make John black, we can’t make him a woman. Those things get you a lot of press, worth a certain amount of fundraising dollars.”

Keep others interests in mind

I subscribe to the This Is True mailing list. They ran an article a while back about someone giving Vice President Dick Cheney “a piece of their mind” and getting talked to by the secret service for doing so (the secret service accused the person of “harassing” and “threatening” Cheney). I’ve been trying to dig up the details on the story for those interested, but the details are actually irrelevant for the purpose of this article. In any case, it re-enforced one of my keys of good communication: always present an idea or opinion with the other person’s interests in mind.

Two envelopes

There’s an old story about a manager being fired and leaving his successor two envelopes. The envelopes, labeled #1 and #2 are to be opened in that order when the new manager gets in a tough situation. The story goes that the new manger gets in a bind, opens #1 which has a note inside that reads “Blame it on me.” This works for a little while and then another major problem arises. The new manager opens up #2 which contains a note that reads “Prepare two envelopes.”

The Unexpected – it can be good or bad

A few weeks ago, I came across a web site that had the audio of speeches from the 2006 TED Conference. TED stands for Technology, Education & Design and the organization behind it describes the conference as an “invitation only event where the world’s leading thinkers and doers gather to find inspiration.” I listened to two of the speeches – they we each by a well known person that I know quite a bit about. I really liked one speech and really disliked the other, which I expected would happen. What I didn’t expect was that each speech had an effect on me which was the complete opposite of what I expected.

A quick note about politics

Something I see all too often is people allowing their political beliefs to ruin their relationships. I’ve heard people in business settings say things like “I can’t stand him, he’s a Republican” or “don’t waste your time talking to that Liberal.”

Those of us that are interested in politics have some strong beliefs that we’re really passionate about. And yes, it’s fine to think that people on the other side of a particular issue are wrong. But don’t let it get in the way of your friendship or relationship.