Either he said “stupid woman” or “stupid people” in the direction of Theresa May.
Speaker of the House John Bercow afforded Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn the benefit of the doubt after his comments towards the Prime Minister.
I very much doubt the British public will grant him that.
Either way, he’s calling someone stupid.
It breaks two of our Golden Rules:
1. Praise in public, criticise in private
2. When under attack, use your poker face
A leader of any major political party really should know better.
Theresa May ‘baited’ her opposite number in the Commons on Wednesday, accusing Jeremy Corbyn of weakness in failing to propose a no-confidence motion against the government.
She turned Prime Minister’s Questions into a pantomime by encouraging cries of:
“Oh no he isn’t” (going to propose a motion of no confidence)
“Look behind you” (at your own disappointed colleagues).
And she got exactly what she wanted.
According to Speaker Bercow, professional lipreaders were unable to tell him with certainty whether he said ‘stupid woman’ or ‘stupid people’.
But perception is the only reality, and if people think it, you might as well have said it.
He made things worse for himself by repeating the phrase:
“I didn’t say “‘stupid woman'”.
Regular readers will know that’s a Pink Elephant – an unnecessary negative – to be avoided at all costs.
It’s a simple rule.
Tell people they’re doing a great job in the company of others.
Avoid criticising them in public.
A major part of Corbyn’s role as opposition leader is to criticise, disagree, challenge across the Commons floor.
But when that criticism becomes about the person rather than the policy, things become trickier.
Add in accusations of sexism and it becomes trickier still.
Particularly when you have an image problem already based on accusations of anti-Semitic discrimination.
And a government looking for any way to deflect attention away from their own in-fighting onto Labour.
So Corbyn needs to be much smarter.
Whether it’s ‘stupid people’ or ‘stupid woman’, he’d be better critiquing the policy.
Indeed, his ability to effectively critique the government over the last 30 months forms a large part of Labour MPs’ frustration, to which Theresa May was alluding.
It’s the difference between:
“I disagree with you”
“I disagree with your argument”.
The same goes for any media interview.
Or indeed if you’re facing a barrage of personal criticism from an embattled Prime Minister looking for a momentary breather.
The concept is simple, though it requires incredible focus.
Rather than react, interrupt, even shift in your seat, true poker face requires you to keep everything under the lid.
And keep that lid shut until it’s your turn to speak.
Doing so means you retain 100% control of the words you wish to say, refusing to give in to bait.
So, the next time someone barbs you, use poker face, take a second and gather your thoughts.
The Labour Leader is facing calls to apologise, but he fiercely denies the claims.
There’s little else he can do.
That’s the problem. Once it’s shot, shared online and spread on social media, it’s there forever.
And despite all the denials, if there is ever any further accusation of sexism within Corbyn’s career, or the Labour Party in general, that clip will resurface.
So, while he’s stuck in it, you can get out in front of it.
And really work on that poker face.
Andrew McFarlan is the Managing Director of Pink Elephant Communications.
You can view his profile here.
Photos By OnePexels.com
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