Speak Wisely

PRINDONESIA.CO | Thursday, January 02, 2020
Banyaknya kasus salah ucap menjadi pelajaran penting bagi para pejabat publik untuk belajar bicara yang benar. Benar secara konten dan sekaligus konteks.
Dok. Istimewa

Speaking is easy, but the effect of what is said cannot be as easy as when it stated.


JAKARTA, PRINDONESIA.CO – Your tongue is fire. The classic proverb illustrates the risk of a speech that is often not thought of, and then it can result in a fatal consequence for the speaker.

There are so many cases of misspeaking that trigger insult, offense, to personal and institutional crises, especially that comes from public officials. For example, a Minister’s words about “ankle-length trouser” “niqab”, and “radicalism”. Later, the Minister clarified all his remarks were not as the public interprets. He said that he did not forbid women from wearing the veil, but it should not be worn by the state civil servants while serving in a government agency. As well as the ankle-length trouser which is only forbidden from being worn by state civil servants while on duty.

Another case is about a Governor who banned “poor” tourists from visiting his region. Again, this (wrong) remark was clarified by his subordinate as a “marketing language”. Although it has been clarified, both the Minister’s and the Governor’s remarks are a sign of a lack of good public communication. Whatever the reason, the racket has already occurred in the public. Imagine if they were never have spoken about some of the issues above, surely the potential for a racket in the public would never be created.

Being a public official should have control over their speech if they are not sure about what you intend to disclose. Recklessly sharing a discourse to get a public response is not beneficial at all.

Speak the Truth

An important lesson for public officials from so many cases of misspeaking is the importance of learning to speak the truth. True in content and context. There is a Javanese proverb that says: “Bener ning kudu Pener”. The right speech must be accompanied by the right context or momentum. Because if it’s not, even if the content of the speech is true, if the momentum is wrong, it will potentially have a negative impact.

How does public officials realize that their style of speech needs to be managed so that they do not speak recklessly?  There should be an alert from the communication team around the public official who dares to provide input on how the official speaks. Unfortunately, not all communication teams in the public official’s inner circles have the courage to remind the Boss.

Sometimes they even ask for help from a third party to provide a good perspective on how to speak to the leader. Of course, this is not wrong. However, those who accompany the public official every day that must be able to remind them.

This is a serious and interesting challenge for public relations (PR) practitioners who are in the inner circle of public officials. Either the Special Staff of Communication, the Head of the Public Relations Bureau, the Director of Communications, and the Communications Expert Staff. Their very important task is the same: Giving advice to the Boss in order to speak appropriately and wisely.

I remember the principle of Ivy Lee, the father of modern PR. That PR, and of course the leaders, when speaking must deliver truth with accurate facts. Especially for PR, Lee advice for them to try to be close to the boss and can influence the policy/communication style that will be conveyed by the boss to the public/audience if it has the potential to cause a racket.

O public officials, manage your communication (style) wisely and always remember Ivy Lee’s advice and the classic Javanese saying. If not, be prepared to face the storm of communication crisis due to incorrect and inappropriate remarks. Adieu! (asw)