Aside from all the rich material here, I was struck by the word choices and tone taken by Marlins President David Samson in a recent story in The Miami Herald: “I’m not going to say Miami is not a sports town,’’ he said. “Or that there is something wrong with the fans? I would never say that.”
Oh you wouldn’t, would you? I think you just did.
I find this type of language fascinating. A former client once said to me: “I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job, but I think…” Guess what? He was telling me how to do my job, just as Samson is saying there’s something wrong with the fans in Miami.
Given my fascination for this “saying it but not saying it” tactic, I decided to seek an expert opinion. I called my friend Dr. Oren Wunderman, a psychologist who also serves as CEO of Miami’s Family Resource Center, a wonderful non-profit group that helps foster kids get adopted. Oren has forgotten more about psychology than I will ever know.
He called Samson’s language a “paradoxical assertion,” where a person asserts a point in one part of a statement and then negates it in another.
“State it and withdraw it,” said Wunderman. “Very sneaky.”
For some of his adolescent patients, Wunderman says such language is unconscious, and he doesn’t hold them accountable for it. With adults, he sees it as a form of manipulation.
Stop being so disingenuous. Right now, all fans hear is whining and double-talk. Saying that the team is better off now because it has improved its farm system doesn’t play at all in “win-centric” South Florida. My suggestion would be for the team’s executives to sit down with fans and season ticket holders and get their feedback. Listen to your base of support and hear them out. Take your medicine, then explain your decisions and be honest that you believe this strategy gives you the best chance to get back to the World Series. Next, develop a long-haul position that focuses on what fans will see on the field this year. Lastly, get your promotions team working on plans to put some butts in seats, so you can start genuinely re-earning faith.
The Marlins face a long rough road to improve their on- and off-field performance. If they back down from the negative messaging, and take a long-term and genuine approach, then they can win back South Florida fans. If not, expect the chilly relationship to continue.
Posted: March 15, 2013 at 05:01 AM | 21 comment(s)
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