As a communication expert, the Tiger Woods media statement today provided much to dissect. As a student of human behavior, there is much to discuss. As a human being, there is a great deal to ponder.
Let’s first ponder the human behavior, then we can get to how well or poor he did communicating his message.
Time heals all (or at least fades the scar) and in ten years (or much less) Tiger will have his fans, his contracts, his children, some semblance of his family and his community back in order. So how about doing some good in the mean time? Instead of having a nationally televised pity party or pulling the covers over your head back at rehab (which by the way is not one of the “normal rules” that “everyone” else lives by. Everyone else who sleeps with dogs (metaphorically speaking that is- I am sure they were all very nice girls) has to think about what they have done AND go back to work.) how about getting out there in front of all those “kids all around the world who admired” you and discuss the practicalities of your, uh, experience. Instead of saying you will now “become a better person” get out there and warn others against the same fate.
I once read that to be called a hypocrite was not necessarily a bad thing. An alcoholic espousing the dangers of drinking is possibly more convincing than the warnings of a tea drinker. A reformed ‘mean girl’ might have more credibility with a group of teenagers than the high school counselor. So Tiger, I say to you in a country where most everyone believes that infidelity is the wrong way to go, yet one out every two married couples (or 1/3 or 1/4) has a cheater in it, why not become the poster man for ‘why not to be like me’. Make this your last appearance of public self-flagellation. Stop asking for our help (although using the ‘theory of reciprocity’ is a good communication strategy) and telling people that there is no good end for breaching another’s trust. Thus instead of saving yourself, which is what your statement was clearly meant to do, you might just save somebody else.
I hope Tiger did good for himself today. And if the purpose of his statement was to do good for others, I hope that happens as well. But as a mere mortal who lives along side Tiger and millions of other imperfect people, here is what I wish he had said. ‘I have made a royal mess. My actions have had a huge and disastrous rippling affect. I have lost the trust of my mom, my wife, my children. My friends are mad at me for having affairs or for getting caught. My fans are disillusioned. My sponsors are holding on to their wallets. Disloyalty breeds disloyalty. I feel like worm slime. My own actions have made me lie, cry, gravel, plead, and that is just the speak able. I am telling you this today because for years I was a role model for what to strive for in life. I now stand before the same family, friends, fans, employees, fellow players and strangers to say, don’t do what I did. Use my actions and the consequences as a warning for what can happen to you and everything you touch if you “run through the boundaries” of your own values.’
Tiger should now keep still. Be true to his promise not to talk about details. No Oprah, no Barbara, no SNL to up his image. So, he did the deed (several times) along with millions of other men and women. That makes him a member of a not-so-special club. If he can make his actions result in something good, for society at large, then he will be special again.
On Monday, I will blog on Tiger's use of specific language in the speech and then later in the week, I will cover Tiger's nonverbal communication. In the meantime, tell me your thoughts on his media statement.