One of our directors, Graham, related the following.
“I was just hit by my wife Hillary. In hindsight, I deserved it and there is a lesson/reminder for us proposal folks behind the reason for her having reacting to something I said as she did.
I brought home a piece of banana cake that I had left over from my lunch*. Upon taking it out I commented to her, in an attempt to flatter her about her own, quite tasty, banana cake, “this banana cake is a million times worse than yours.”
She then explained to me (very slowly and rather condescendingly I felt), that what I was saying wasn’t very flattering, as hers was only ‘less worse’ than this ‘worser’ cake.
In hindsight this certainly would have been better received if I’d focused on the positive, saying something along the lines of, “Your banana cake is so much better than this cake.”
As is the case in developing content for proposals, it is always better to “accentuate the positive” (and we certainly don’t want to unintentionally highlight or bring up a negative idea or concept.**
*One does have to wonder, if the banana cake was indeed, “a million times worse’ than the cake Hillary makes Graham, why on earth did you bring it home? :)
** One of the examples we use of this is our workshops is that of a certain US leader (who shall remain nameless but I’ve no doubt you’ll know to whom I’m referring), who, in an attempt to defend himself repeatedly stated, “I did not have relations with that woman.” The words that resonate from this – the unintentional negative – are ‘relations’ and ‘woman’, not what Bill…I mean this unnamed individual…was hoping for. He could have put the emphasis on the positive by saying instead, “I have always been faithful to my wife.” (He’d have been lying, put at least he’d be sending the right message. :) )