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Thank You, Tiger–Now We Can Move On

I am grateful for Tiger Woods' admission of guilt and his apology to his family. Since the reporting of his car accident days ago, the Internet has been full of speculation about the accident and about his possible infidelity. People have been arguing, taking sides, and worrying about their golf superhero. I know I have been.

But now, with his admission and apology, we can move on.

Yes, this blog is about business writing. Here's the connection: Mr. Woods' situation, however unfortunate, involves business communication.

Now that he has told the truth, even a slice of it, we can move on. Our wondering is over. We can get back to important things. Soon Mr. Woods will be able to return to golf.  

The same is true when communicating bad news in our business lives. We should share bad news promptly and apologize for it.

In the latest issue of my e-newsletter, Better Writing at Work, I suggest:

Tip 3: Reveal it–don't conceal it. Don't try to protect others from bad news or yourself from sharing it. If bad news leaks out, people may be hurt and angry that they did not hear it from you or through other appropriate channels.

Tip 9: Apologize. Saying you are sorry about a situation does not mean you are guilty or liable for it. It means you care. Tell employees, customers, clients, and patrons when you are sorry that the news is not better. And if the bad news is your fault–for example, if you missed a proposal submission deadline because of your own mistake or delay–accept responsibility and apologize so that you and everyone else can move on.

He has owned up to the bad news. He has communicated enough for us to move on. Those were the right things to do. 

Do you have a view on communicating bad news?

Syntax Training

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By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English.

4 comments on “Thank You, Tiger–Now We Can Move On”

  • You’re kidding, right, Lynn? I don’t recall Tiger admitting anything, except generic “transgressions.” Why this quickness to absolve him? Why so uncomfortable with uncertainty? Let the man twist in the wind until he does what it takes to resolve the situation. Until then, a premature decision to “move on” is just as inappropriate as a premature decision to pronounce Tiger guilty.

  • Hi, Tim. Great comment. But no, I am not kidding. I wanted to stop wondering and move on, and I have. Admitting his “transgressions” was the bad news I needed to move on.

    There are many other things he might have said and ways he might have said it, but my uncertainty has been satisfied. I have stopped viewing the videos and reading the articles. I am done with it.


  • I’m tired of the news relying on Tiger Woods (and other celebrities) to get a story. How much more celebrity crap are they going to throw at us? I don’t *care* about a celebrity’s car accident, who’s pregnant, and who’s cheating on their spouse. Don’t people have better things to do?!

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