The Blog

communication skills, amazing grace, stan wawrinka, andy murray

Communication Skills 101: Amazing grace

What can we learn from top tennis players?

Or the giants of world rugby?

There’s a quality most exude.

Normally absent in politics.

Seldom seen in business.

And sadly lacking across football.


The ability to praise your rivals.

And recognise their talents.

It’s a quality we need to bring more into business.


Read on.

The court battle

the court battle, communication skills, amazing grace, stan wawrinka

This week, Stan Wawrinka soared in my estimation.

As he praised his conqueror in Antwerp.

Andy Murray’s comeback from surgery was impressive on the court.

And Stan’s was just as impressive off it.

The duo had battled for over two hours.



Uncompromising tennis.

Until Murray triumphed.

His first singles trophy since major hip surgery just months ago.

Grace in defeat

grace in defeat, communication skills, amazing grace, stan wawrinka, andy murray

Wawrinka could have made excuses.

But instead he said this to Murray:

“To see you back at this level, it’s amazing.

“We’re all really happy.

“I’m really sad I lost today, but I’m really happy to see you back.

“You’re an amazing champion and you deserve that.”

That speech came minutes after the match.

Straight from the heart.

One former rugby national coach once told me:

“The most difficult interview is the live TV one.

“When you’ve just lost with millions watching.”

So the grace shown by Wawrinka was truly inspiring.

Grace in victory

grace in victory, communication skills, amazing grace, steve hansen

It can be just as hard to show grace when you’ve won convincingly.

Most coaches and players want only to talk about their achievement.

But All Blacks coach Steve Hansen had other priorities in his live TV interview.

Minutes after crushing Ireland in Japan.

He wanted to pay tribute to the retiring Irish captain.

And retiring Ireland coach.

Hansen began:

“Just before I talk about what we do.

“I want to acknowledge Rory Best and Joe Schmidt.

“They’ve been instrumental in making Ireland the number one ranked team in the world.

“Big congratulations to them on their career.

“Well done to them.

“They’ve done great things for Irish rugby.”

The words are all the more remarkable as Hansen was highlighting Ireland previously holding top spot.

Which had resulted from twice beating his side.

And demoting the All Blacks to second place in world rugby rankings.

So what do we learn?

so what do we learn, communication skills, amazing grace, andy murray

An emotional Andy Murray at the 2019 European Open in Antwerp.

It’s uplifting to hear the victors and the vanquished demonstrate grace.

In business, we can do the same.

By pointing out the qualities of people around us.

Highlighting just why we’re pleased for their success.

And also showing dignity when decisions go against us.

When losing out on business in a competitive pitch.

Good business practice

Pink Elephant communications, good business practice, communication skills, amazing grace

At Pink Elephant Communications, we always wish companies well when they choose other trainers.

And we ask what we can do to improve our pitch.

Some become clients further down the line.

They’re more likely to if we make it easier for them to return.

Grace in TV interviews

grace in tv interviews, communication skills, barack obama

President Obama showed grace in TV interviews.

He often saw his opponent’s point of view.

Then introduced an even more compelling argument.

Compare that to the current occupant of the White House, whose praise is reserved exclusively for himself and his friends.

Grace in presentations

communication skills, pink elephant, grace in presentations

Whether in presentations skills or media training courses.

At our Glasgow studios or in countries around the world.

Our advice is always the same.

Use positive words to highlight success.

And avoid criticising in public.

The grace shown this week by beaten Wawrinka.

And by victorious Hansen.

It’s heart-warming to see and made them both winners in my book.

It’s what we all should aspire to when speaking in public.

Or being interviewed by the media.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.


Bill McFarlan is co-Founder and Executive Chairman at Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.

You can read his full profile here.


Images of Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka courtesy of ATP Tennis TV.
Image of Steve Hansen courtesy of World Rugby.
Photos by Barack Obama / CC BY-NC-SA on

25th October 2019 Featured in: Blog, Communication skills training blogs By:

view all posts

Build Your Confidence

Some media trainers knock you down…and leave you down. Our media coaches show you how to deal with each knock…and still win through. So you have the presentation skills to perform – with confidence.

request a quote