The news business tends to attract a very unique brand of people.
Case in point:
- Most people run and hide from hurricanes. We run toward them.
- People generally crave stability. Stability tends to either bore us or makes us nervous.
- Intimidation and irrational behavior are shunned in most industries. In many cases, our industry has rewarded the worst offenders, labeling them as “passionate.”
Being in a room full of such powerful personalities can certainly make life interesting. When you are an entry-level producer or reporter, how you interact with such personalities can make or break you. I’ve seen young hot-heads go toe-to-toe with more experienced, mercurial talent. I’ve also seen the passive approach. But let me warn you, kowtowing to high-octane personalities is not the way to win respect. Yelling and screaming back is not the answer, either.
The best way is to keep your professional cool and hold your ground. At the end of the day, most people simply want a decision. They may not like it. They may protest. But how they react should not be your concern. How you react and communicate your vision needs to be your focus. Involving a manager is a good idea in more testy situations. But it shouldn’t be done every time.
When there is conflict, seek first to understand. Understand why the person does not agree with you. Acknowledge his or her point of view. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to generalize. For example, saying a reporter disagrees because he or she is lazy is usually not exactly right. Similarly, saying a producer only wants a story because he or she needs to fill space is usually not true(in some cases, it is – that needs to be addressed by management).
One size does not fit all; it is important you measure each situation differently. The most respected people in the newsroom tend to be those who take the time to understand – not only their craft, but their co-workers as well.