How to fake being friendly in PR

The problem with being a great judge of character is that I judge most people to be lacking. I know it won’t do my career any good at all if I go around sneering at my boss, journalists and clients – that’s why I do it secretly in this column.

There are times and places when I must pretend extra hard to like people and this takes effort, willpower and skill.

Here are some top tips:

In meetings

When you hear your boss come out with some ridiculous idea, it is wise not to snigger. Instead, nod your head. When you are asked for some feedback, make sure you repeat back the germ of the stupid concept and say how you wish you had thought of it.

At lunch

When the journalist opposite you comes out with some offensive remark (probably before the starter arrives), don’t look horrified. Nod your head and say that you understand where they are coming from. Don’t mention that you also know where you’d like them to f*ck off to.

At the beginning of pitches

Getting the client to like you is far more important than the campaigns you present, so really work at this. Look into their eyes when you shake their hands, laugh at their jokes heartily, and compliment their clothing choices (even though you hate their Paul Smith striped socks). Don’t overdo it though, you don’t want them to think you are creepy.

At your annual review

There is no point trying to get your boss to like you just before your appraisal, this has to be a year-round effort. Take a tip from my son. Whenever I ask him to tidy his room he says: “I’m on it!” in such an enthusiastic way, I think how helpful he is. Of course he never does sort out his room, but because he always seems so keen, I don’t get as cross as I should.

At events

Oh the chore of having to be nice to lots of people at the same time. The secret is to embrace the task with gusto. Smile! No bigger than that! Think Tony Blair … wait, maybe that’s not such a good idea … Richard Branson may be a better approach. But, please don‘t copy his beard (although I believe they are fashionable right now.)

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