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The Art of Respectful Debate: 4 Ways to Disagree without Being Contentious: Show Notes & Transcript

Post | May 09, 2023

Welcome back to Marketing Smarts! From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini (that’s us) comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. We deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from our combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. We tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

In this episode, we’re talking the art of respectful debate. Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and your other favorite podcast spots – follow and leave a 5-star review if you’re exercising your Marketing Smarts!

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Marketing Smarts: The Art of Respectful Debate: 4 Ways to Disagree without Being Contentious

We encourage respectful debate. It has an ability to pull different POVs, expertise, and beliefs – and that can be a great thing for your business. BUT, there’s an art to it. You can disagree without being contentious by taking responsibility for your current set of beliefs and assumptions, knowing when you are being objective or subjective, not letting it get personal, and defining and consistently reinforcing the common goal. Let’s dive into the art of respectful debate. This episode covers everything from debate to goals. Here’s a small sample of what you will hear in this episode:

  • How do you disagree without being contentious?
  • Why should you take responsibility for your current set of beliefs and assumptions?
  • How do you know when you are being objective or subjective?
  • What’s a POV?
  • How do you not let it get personal?
  • What goes into defining and consistently reinforcing the common goal?
  • How does the BAL Model work?
  • What did Crunch Fitness get wrong?

And as always, if you need help in building your Marketing Smarts, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at:

Check out the episode, show notes, and transcript below:

Show Notes

What is Marketing Smarts?

From brand-building and marketing veterans Anne Candido and April Martini comes a podcast committed to cutting through all the confusing marketing BS so you can actually understand how to take action and change your business today. They deep-dive into topics most would gloss-over, infusing real-world examples from their combined 35+ years of corporate and agency experience. They tell it how it is so whether you are just starting out or have been in business awhile, you have the Marketing Smarts to immediately impact your business.

How do I exercise my Marketing Smarts?

Thanks for listening to Marketing Smarts. Get in touch here to become a savvier marketer. 


Please note: this transcript is not 100% accurate.

Anne Candido 0:02
This is Marketing Smarts – a podcast committed to helping you become a savvier marketing leader, no matter your level. In each episode, we will dive into a relevant topic or challenge that marketing leaders are currently facing. We will also give you practical tools and applications that will help you put what you learn into practice today. And if you missed anything, don’t worry, we put worksheets on our website that summarize the key points. Now, let’s get to it. Welcome to Marketing Smarts! I’m Anne Candido, and I am April Martini. And today we’re going to talk about how to disagree without being contentious. So this is at the root of what we call respectful debate, which we talked about a time. And frankly, we encourage respectful debate because of its ability to pull different point of views, different expertise, different beliefs, all those passion areas. This diversity of thought is critical for leaders to really make good decisions. But what gets in the way of respectful debate are usually feelings feelings of anxiety, discomfort, fear, worry, that comes with disagreement, or more accurately put the energy around disagreement, which is why we tend to be really conflict avoidant.

April Martini 1:14
Yeah. Which means that many leaders will tend to shut down respectful debate and then schedule some silly tone deaf thing like a team building the next week to have everyone quote unquote, get along better. Yep. I’m going to say something a bit controversial here. But we believe politeness is actually the enemy of productivity, meaning failure to bring diversity of thought or failure to question the status quo or failure to clarify expectations not being met, or when they’re not clear can poison relationships, and actually, over time, impede progress, right. But there is

Anne Candido 1:48
an art to respectful debate. And at the root of it is how to disagree without being contentious, which is really what creates a hostile environment that everybody really, really fears. So with that, let’s jump into the art of respectful debate how to disagree without being contentious. So the first point is to take responsibility for your current set of beliefs and assumptions. So one way that debate really turns ugly is when fingers get pointed. 100%. Yes, so the root of this is when someone else didn’t do their job. And that other person is pointing the finger at them saying, This is what you should have done, or you should have done this, or you missed that, or you didn’t do what you’re supposed to do. But what does does is it usually puts the other person on the defensive, which then usually turns that back around on to you, which is like, Well, you didn’t tell me you need it. Or you weren’t clear that this is the kind of quality you wanted. The common theme is you statement, you did this, you did this, you did this. The way to counter this, especially if you’re having the intent of having a really productive conversation, is to take responsibility for what your current beliefs or assumptions are. And pose this as a way in these statements start with I, I was under the assumption that this would be included. I thought that based on a timeline, we established that this would be done by now, I thought that based on the scope, you’re going to do this next. The reality situation is no matter how hard we tried to be crystal clear, there’s always room left for interpretation. There’s always excuses, some good, some not. There’s always different lenses for seeing every situation. The point of this is to realize this by validating your own assumptions versus making someone else wrong. Yeah.

April Martini 3:29
And I think one of the big things here is that you need to realize your beliefs and assumptions are not likely the exact same as the other person. In fact, they never are, because every person is very different. So instead of getting frustrated by what you expected, if you can flip the narrative in your own head and try to give some grace to the other person, assume positive intent, and then start the conversation. I think to Anne’s point about the I you know, I expected this i versus the accusatory you were supposed to do this. When you frame it this way, I think it doesn’t let the other person off the hook nor, as you know by now and and I are not built to let anyone off the hook ever. So that’s absolutely not what we’re saying here. But I think what happens if you take the time to think about their perspective, you can see that things aren’t black and white, our world is not black and white. And so they’re likely was gray and whatever happened in the situation. And and I talk all the time with our clients with each other with, you know, people, we coach about how really the root of every problem is a breakdown in communication. And this is one of those situations where I think that happens. You could have thought that you were crystal clear in communicating what your expectations were, and maybe you were but maybe the other person didn’t hear it all or didn’t internalize it all or didn’t take it the way you want it right so you can start to see how when you think about oh, well maybe when I said this, they thought this This or you know, and not to say you go down a rabbit hole or again, you don’t excuse them. But it’s more about not getting aggressive right off the bat and posing it or coming from a place of you are wrong. And I am right.

Anne Candido 5:12
It does all really well said. And I really specifically, like the point about making sure the other person or seeing or hearing from the fact that the other person has good intentions, and realizing that they have their own set of filters, their own set of responsibilities, their own set of criteria by which they’re operating from, which may not be the same as yours. And we’re gonna get to how you you address that here and one of the later points. But all of that being said, when we go out, like you said, on the defensive, it tends to start the conversation off from really bad place. And there’s only one way to go from there. Right. So I think that’s really a really good point. All right, so our next point about the art of respectful debate and how to disagree without being contentious is to know when you’re being objective, or subjective kind of preempted this point? A little bit. Yes. Now, this is a little bit of a complicated mind trick. So stay with me, and I’ll try to clarify as I go. But as we’ve preached many times is always good to have objective resources and references in order to anchor the conversation. Okay, this comes from briefs, processes, protocols, best practices, this allows you to debate the merit of the solution, the POV, the idea versus the way you feel about it. So it allows you to have that lens and that filter, the baits escalate when we tried to disguise of subjective conversation as an objective conversation, right? What do I mean by this? So many times we feel a certain way about something, we don’t want to admit it, we don’t want to say how we feel about it doesn’t feel like it has enough gravitas. It doesn’t feel like it has enough weight. So instead, we try to strengthen our argument by trying to make objective points at a subject of principles. Okay, so let me give you an example of what this looks like. This is one you can all relate to. It’s not this one isn’t happened to be true, per se, but it all exemplify the point. So my husband asked me where I want to go for dinner. And he suggests his favorite Mexican restaurant, which also happens to be owned by a friend of his right. I really don’t like this restaurant at all. But I don’t want to say that because it may hurt his feelings, or it may cause some disagreement between him and his friend. So instead, I start providing points as to why going to this restaurant isn’t a good idea. So I might say, well, you know, we just had Mexican the other night. Or maybe it gets really busy on Saturday nights. And we’ll have to wait. And I’m very hungry, all feel like legitimate points on the surface. But what they’re disguising is my feeling about the situation that I really just don’t want to go. Right. So now we do this at work to when we don’t really have a good reason for something. But we feel a certain way about it. We call this running an agenda. And if the other person doesn’t realize that that’s what’s going on. When this conversation starts becoming heated, the person who feels a certain way about the situation starts feeling like they’re being personally attacked for their thoughts in their points of view, even though the other person may not realize that it’s a feeling that they are expressing versus and they objective point of view based on data, or based on this, the sources that I was talking about earlier. So it’s a very interesting nuance the way you kind of get through it, if you’re not quite sure, sometimes we can pull up people running agendas from a mile away, right. But if you don’t know the best thing to do is just to ask, and it may seem like a really awkward question to ask. But it’s better than kind of spiraling down into this abyss of like contentious disagreement over somebody’s feelings that you didn’t even know they had. So you’d simply just say, hey, is this something that you’re feeling? Is this do you have this emotional reaction to this? Is this something you have some substantiation for? Or is this something that you’re seeing based on some level of data or some level of cumulative experience or some other reference or some other data point? So just to kind of anchor yourself and what kind of conversation you having either could be valid, but you just want to make sure that as you’re having this discussion, you’re being very cognizant about whether or not you’re debating facts or whether or not you’re debating feelings? Yeah.

April Martini 9:26
Yeah. I mean, I think it is such a good point. And when I think about this one, I think what happens is, you know, and you mentioned wanting to protect people’s feelings, and we talked about how politeness can be the breakdown of being able to have respectful debate, right. And so, I think that when we don’t speak from the authenticity or the underlying root of why we are reacting the way we are the other person tends to sense it on some level. Right? Right. For those of us that are highly intuitive, it’s pretty obvious for those of us that are not. It just feels a little uncomfortable, right. And I think that’s where the breakdown starts to happen here. And I think that when you can do it in that more objective place, or learn to capture that as a best practice, you can build almost like muscle memory to make it work. I was thinking about the way that Anna and I interact with each other. And we had this interaction yesterday, that just struck me, as when we start to send something within the other person and we go to approach it with each other. So this is like a simple example, right? We’re writing an article series, and has been owning it, I’ve been supporting it. Where it got tricky is one of the people coming in with someone I reached out to one of my triggers is somebody asked me for help. We all know this, this could be a whole episode in and of itself, I feel compelled to jump right in and save them from whatever is happening, right? It’s a little bit of a problem with me. But anyway, so I passed on the article content, and but it was stuck in my head that this person had asked for help, right from me, or that’s the way I was thinking about it. And so I had offered in one of our, you know, meetings, discussions about the work to go ahead and take a first pass it things twitching, I was like, okay, but then we never really resolved it. Right? And rightly so, and came back and said, Hey, we got to get on this. Are you going to do this? Or what should I do? And I was like, Okay, well, I’m not sure if I’m going to add value. But this person asked me for help. I don’t know if I should jump in there. Will it be redundant, but this person asked me for help, because I kind of did this thing in my head. And I went back and I said, Look, I’m not trying to get out of it. But maybe it’s not a good idea for me to jump into which again, responded, Well, I felt like when you had that response, I was You thought I was cutting him out of the process. I like doing this work. And I was like, oh, okay, I can be absolved at the whole thing, right. But my feelings were getting in the way of my response in an objective way to the assignment, right. Whereas if I had taken myself out, and then I think the back and forth was good, because it was like, I didn’t want to end to think I was being like, Oh, I said, I would help it actually have an opt out. See you later, right? Versus you being like, Oh, shit, does she feel like I’m cutting her out of the process, we were able to resolve it and get to that more objective place again.

Anne Candido 12:15
Yeah, I think that’s a really good example, because a lot of the conversations that people have, either personally, or in the workplace are like that, right? It’s like, I really want to do this work, I used to have that feeling all the time, and I want to own that work. But sometimes, I wouldn’t just state that because I’d be like, well, if I state that, then someone’s gonna feel left out. And they’re gonna feel like, I’m just gonna take it and run with it, I’m not gonna get any input. And I feel like we feel this way a lot that we have to share everything. But instead, if we just kind of acknowledge how we feel about it, express how we feel about it. State sometimes what our fear is in taking it away, like, like I said, I was like, Well, I just don’t want her to feel like I’m just owning it. And she doesn’t have a role to play, if she wants a role to play. Those conversations, start building a level of understanding that then almost like preempt any kind of debate that you would have to have, because you start to reveal feelings, which are really hard to interpret, especially if you’re going over slack, which was what we were doing. Yeah, in person. Yeah. So I couldn’t see your face and see like how you’re feeling about that. And so that I think it’s a really good lesson for everybody is that when you have these feelings, expressed that this is how you feel, listen, I’m like, I feel like I’m like, I really like to own this, I really want to take this, you know, and if you have a feeling other way, then that’s fine. We can discuss it. And then you can have a debate, but at least expresses where you’re coming from. And so it helps to really build the right solution for both people. So people don’t become resentful in the process, I think,

April Martini 13:47
Well, yeah. And I mean, I think it you know, to the point of the previous point, and then building with this one, one of my deepest triggers is having someone feel like I’m not carrying my weight. Yeah. And so I had to check that, too, right. Like in my head, it was like this person asked for help compounded by the fact that one of the people I respect the very most, I would never want to think I was shirking responsibility. It was caught in my head, right in all the feelings versus like, oh, yeah, da, this is clearly something she should take.

Anne Candido 14:16
I think that’s a great point, because it’s the beginning of the funnel that leads to the debate. So that’s a great point. All right. The third part of the art of respectful debate how to disagree without being contentious is to don’t let it get personal.

April Martini 14:29
Course she gives me this one. Yep. So debates tend to deteriorate no surprise when they become personal, which is why we talked at length in the previous point about how important it is to know the origin of the debate topic. As soon as a person’s character versus the situation or the work or whatever is being challenged. The respectful part of the debate goes out the window. Yes. At this point, hear us when we say the conversation needs to say up immediately, yes, there, we were at the point of diminishing returns, guys. So the next phase after this is to defuse the situation, which usually means everybody goes to their separate corners, everybody needs to cooled down, we need to take some time to process how we landed in this situation. And overall, that energy really needs to come down before you can even think about re engaging in the debate. There are three likely conclusions as far as the next steps go. Number one, understand you may not get any further from the debate. So you may just need to say, look, we had the discussion to a point, we just need to call it, let’s just decide right now, and then you move forward. And this allows the situation to in theory be diffused without further harm. Now, if this is happening repetitively, etcetera, you might have a compounding problem, but that’s one option. Number two, certain individuals rise as being more knowledgeable or credible. So you seek them out to finalize your decision, otherwise known as electing a referee. In the situation, if you can’t get to it yourself, bring somebody else in as a third party who’s going to be objective or like, you know, higher level or someone equipped to make the decision on your behalf, again, from a non emotional, not subjective place to where you can get to the right objective solution. And the third is to let everybody cool down and then bring them back to the discussion. With stricter rules for engagement. I think a lot of times when things get personal, it’s because like answered at the beginning, there isn’t a process for this in place, or expectations or rules of engagement, right? These things have not been outlined until it becomes a little bit more of a free for all. And because we spend so much time and energy and all those things with our co workers, you can understand how it can go to a personal place very quickly. But in all scenarios, you acknowledge the input of the group provide a very clear decision and objective rationale for that decision. And then you ask everybody to get on board, get in the boat and row in the same direction. And then they’re quite frankly, maybe some that can’t do that. And this is what I was starting to get out with my comment about if it’s a compounding problem, and it keeps happening, then you may need to take like a bigger look at the person, are they a good fit for your culture? Can they get on board with what you’re saying? If the decision is made? Can they stop talking against you or talking against the situation and do what needs to be done. We like I said, We all spend a lot of time with the people we work with, we all have bad days, we are human that is a trait of being human. But those repeat offenders are problematic, distracting overtime, they can do a lot of very negative damage to the culture. And honestly, the credibility of the organization as a whole for other employees and your perception out there in the world, all of those types of things. But to get back to the point of this one, which was all around, not letting it get personal. And really then what to do when it does happen, because we just have to recognize it does happen. And the faster you can get things back on track, the better it is for everybody involved.

Anne Candido 18:11
Yeah, I think the rules of engagement are really important there. And those need to be set and established as part of your culture of your team, your business, your whatever your function, whatever that is for you. But as a leader, and I know, we’ve talked to a lot of leaders, April and all of our coaching and they’re like, yeah, when do I get involved? Yeah, you know, you know, especially if people are having more of these debates, and I always give them the example of me and my girls. So guys know, I have a 19 year old and a normal 16 year old. And they can have the most like treacherous arguments. And they could get very personal very quickly, which is when I step in, I’m like, Okay, this is this arguments done. But if I go in too early, what happens is that the anger they have for each other gets deflected to me. So then they have a common person to actually like, put it on to and they bond over their mutual like disappointment or disgust or something I’ve dead or something that I’ve said, and then in like five minutes, they’re fine. They’re gonna go off shopping or go for ice cream. And I’m sitting there going, bawling and upset. You know, why? Why did this all happen? Right? And I’m all upset and they’re fine. It happens in work, too. I mean, it happens all the time, where you try to intercede a little bit too early, and you don’t let people try to figure out on their own, and then you become the common target for everybody. Sometimes that’s a strategy. And it can work. But most of the time when you have folks like this, especially if like you said to repeat offenders and are constantly at each other and we know that this can be the case, you have to set a stage for them to work it out. Right? You have to set the expectation that they need to work this out. Whatever that looks like it’s going to depend on the person is going to depend on the functions with the pen if it’s internal external law. If factors there, but you need to force them to work this out and be able to build that mutual respect, because that’s what everything is foundationally based on? Well, I mean, this is a tough place to be right, which is probably why we focus on this so much in our conversations with leaders in our coaching and all that is, you know, you hear and and I talk about vigilant leadership, right, The Art of Leading from afar, and this is part of that letting people work out their situations, letting them get to conclusions, but the other side of vigilant leadership is setting them up for success. And so I think that’s why these rules of engagement are so important. And also that there is a standard set as far as the expectation goes on, what are kind of the guardrails around the situations right? So

April Martini 20:47
when I think about this, I think about when we write brand character and tone of voice, we write on both sides when it goes too far, one way or another, right. And that’s the same way I think you need to think about this. You have to give people enough tools that it works for them. And then also let them know what is completely out of bounds. And I think, then it makes it really easy to the other point we’re making here, when you have repeat offenders or you have like ansaid, these two people, they’re like oil and water, and they just can’t get it together and get along, it becomes objective criteria for whether or not they’re going to work out in the long term or not. The one thing that I think personally distracts and ruins culture faster than anything else, is when you have two high performers that can’t get along with each other. Yeah. And then the organization freaks out. And they don’t know what to do, because they don’t want to lose either party, because they’re the high performers and the rock stars and whatever. But then they sort of let things slide way more than they should. And that’s when you get to these explosive situations and where things just completely go wrong. And at that point, in 99% of the cases, it’s too late to save either one. So just another and I’m speaking from experience here of having to let people go, where you’re like, if we had addressed that earlier, could we have put better rules of engagement in place, and also held those people to part of your evaluation is going to be whether you can learn to get along with that person, versus letting it get to the point where it’s like, we’re at a point of no return.

Anne Candido 22:23
Yes, in generally, in those cases, there’s a lot of ego evolve. And so the one big way you get over all of that is through point four, which is defined and consistently reinforce the common goal,

April Martini 22:37
look at me setting myself up. It’s like I knew it. Yes, so just like ensuring that there are objective resources, all the things I just spoke to, you also need to have a common goal from the team. We’ve talked on previous episodes about how to get to highly functioning teams, this is the key of that as well. You can have highly functioning teams without a common goal that’s bigger than any one person and what they can individually deliver. Right? If the goal is to align with any one person, discipline, function, etc, people start adopting that goal as their personal quest. And then they forget about the role of the entire team within it. What this also does is help to reinforce the culture of the organization and the fact that we are in this together. And it takes all of us to achieve that big common goal. When everyone is aligned, and they understand it, and they know their role in it, then the chances are far better that someone will seek another person’s feedback as valid, versus any sort of personal agenda. So this is one of the places where you can really eliminate that personal lens or aspect of things. In other words, like we talked about early on in this episode, people have a better chance of believing that the other person’s coming from a good place. So if they’re going to give you feedback, it’s because we are all aligned under this common goal. And since we are all rowing in the same direction, the ultimate reason for the feedback is an objective piece of feedback in order to make the outcome better for everyone that is in it. It’s worth repeating that only highly functioning teams can have respectful debate, because at the heart of everything is respect, and then trust. And if you need to know more about how to create these teams, we do have a podcast for that I mentioned, you know the highly functioning piece. We also have several episodes on teams at this point and how to make them work well together. So in the midst of debate, especially if you foresee things going off the rails, you need to remind people of that common goal. Again, make sure that you have professed it out there, you’ve been clear on the expectations and each person’s role in it. And then you need to reorient or help reorient the discussion to weigh the merits of the ideas or challenges or point of views that are being brought to the forefront. And what has the best chance to achieve that ultimate goal. Some sort of success criteria rating system something Saying that gives everyone not only the common goal, but how we believe we’re going to satisfy that big ask is a great way to bring objectivity to the conversation. And again, get rid of anything personal, subjective, etc, etc, the more that you can profess the goal, and then hand people tools, and I was always a big fan, actually, of when we would do evaluations of any sort of work at every single stage of where we were evaluating kind of like, Go nogo. Or like, how we completed this gate, like those types of things, I would bring whatever that criteria was in a sheet to the group, and I would have every single person individually evaluate whatever was presented. And then collectively, we would have a conversation about people’s reactions and what they sort of quote unquote rated, to control the conversation and make sure that we were very much on track with the objectivity of what we’re trying to do. In a creative environment, especially this is really, really necessary so that people’s personal feelings and they’re tied to the fact that they created this thing doesn’t get in the way of what’s being said. Or if someone doesn’t like said creative person, they don’t allow that to come into the conversation in the room.

Anne Candido 26:19
Yes, and this is a really, really important point, because it’s also what your reward system should be based upon, as well. Right? To your point that you were just saying, with regards to a go, no go decision, but also how everybody gets rewarded. Because if people’s rewards are intrinsically tied to the greater common goal, they’ll be more apt to be more open to feedback in to incorporate other people’s needs into their normal day to day activity. So I’ll give you a couple examples about this. So I’ve talked a lot about my P&G Fabric Care, especially Tide Super Bowl endeavors. And initially, when you’re doing a Super Bowl TV ad, though, there’s one agency who’s generally responsible for actually the development execution of that if the goal was only to create a top TV ad, what is the role of everybody else around it like mine, when I was in communications, or the people who are doing the social or all these other folks who are supposed to be part of the team? What’s our role in that it’s really hard to determine. But if you make the goal, if we want to be the most talked about brand of the Superbowl, then all of a sudden, all the pieces start where you have to endure together in order to create that because you can’t be the most talked about brand, if you’re not orchestrating the communications around that and credit create that comprehensive outreach that actually elevates everything. Right. So that’s like a nuance there. Another part that a lot of times we come to contention is between sales and marketing, right? So if you’re just saying, we want to just get this many customers converted, so to speak, that’s a sales role, right? Yes, salespeople are all about converting their customers. But if you’re saying we want to generate more customers, overall, that also becomes a marketing exercise. Because you have to generate awareness, you have to generate leads, you need to roll them in, and then you have to start to nurture those leads, that becomes a bigger opportunity for everybody that everybody needs to work together because sales can convert the leads until you actually bring them in. Right. So just rethinking a little bit about how you set that goal can change the whole dynamic of the team, because then they start realizing they need each other in order to be successful. And then, on top of that, if the reward is tied to that bigger goal, then everybody realizes hmm, I’m a piece of the pie, my piece might be great, but I need to make other people’s pizzas great, too, if I want to get my portion that I had been working very hard for. So that’s just a couple of examples of how I’ve seen it in my p&g life, and actually, what we’ve seen through our clients, frankly, to where they start to kind of get this contention and within their groups of like, why isn’t everybody working together? Why is everybody arguing? Why are these people going rogue and not paying attention to what else is going over there? Why aren’t they being more collaborative? That’s usually the big word. The root of collaboration is a big common goal. Otherwise, there’s no reason to collaborate, why would somebody collaborate? They don’t need you, right? So those are just two examples I had. Well, I’ll

April Martini 29:29
riff a little bit off of that on the agency side and pick on my png friends a little bit here, which I love to do. But you know, you guys had the BAL model who did the BAL which we which we had to work within. Explain a little bit with BAL. Well, yes, I was going to go there. Okay. Yeah, no, no, you good, fair. Fair point. We have an acronym here. So we need to explain. So basically, what would happen is, P&G would at a certain point in time and there’s been many iterations of how they work with agencies or bring things internal etc. At one phase of my career being on the agency side, the BAL model was huge. And what would happen there is they would basically group all of us agency folk together. And they would put someone at the helm of managing all of the agencies. And they were meant to be a gate or a filter to bring collaborative collective work back to proctor. So that we were presenting together and working together and getting to the best work, because we were all in it, you know altruistically to be partners with each other, you can hear it in my voice, guess what happened. Usually, the person at the head was one of the biggest purse strings, which means they had the most inflated ego, and they would have this power moment where they decided that they were going to push each of the rest of us down. And so what would end up happening is if the ideas weren’t theirs, or if they didn’t understand the work that each other agency was brought in to do, then they would just kill things. And so we would get penalized on both sides, we get penalized by and usually in the agencies I was in, let me just clarify, we were never the leader, the leader was typically the one that was doing whatever the media was, right? Because you had to pay them the most, because without the media budget, none of the stuff we were creating would have been seen by anyone, right. And so we got into this damned if we do damned if we don’t situation where we would present awesome work, and it would get killed. And then we would get clobbered by the proctor team saying we weren’t creative enough. And it just became this like, oh, how do we win in this situation? Right. And so I bring that up, because in theory, actually, I will say I understand why that was brought forth. And I actually think it could have worked. It’s just that it wasn’t framed up with any of the things we’re talking about today. It was just kind of laid upon us to figure out how to collaborate and bring the best work forward. And it was stated to us like you’re all hired, because you’re experts in what you do. Now figure out how to bring that together and come and present it cohesively back to us, there was no level of accountability expectation, what does that look like? What’s our scorecard? How do we make sure this happens, and so it fell apart in execution. So there you go.

Anne Candido 32:15
And frankly, being on the other side of that model multiple times. Rarely, it was the structure established internally at P&G, that was able to take responsibility for that model, right, and be able to push back in appropriate ways when those things were happening. So it was a little bit of a hands off approach in that standpoint, too. And so if you don’t have the right person, who’s leading it, facilitating it, making sure people are accountable to it, it’s just never going to work. So I think that’s a really good point. When you’re bailing needs big common goals, you need to have somebody who’s championing that big common goal and making sure that people are being held accountable to it. And it’s generally not the person on the other side of that goal that is disproportionately responsible for delivering it. Yes, as well as getting compensated for it. So yep, good point. Oh, that gotcha. I really did not like the bat. No.

April Martini 33:12
I mean, it is like a an immediate PTSD situation. I go right into

Anne Candido 33:16
it. Yeah. When you said that, like my heart just started racing. Because that was variably. My one of the functions always got pushed down. Okay, so I’m off my tight box right now. Alright, so our final segment is where we highlight companies or brands and may or may not be using their marketing smarts and may or may not have anything to do with today’s episode. So if he wants to get in an argument with me about this one, you know, we could respectfully debate it.

April Martini 33:39
Oh, we’re tying it back that way. Got it. Okay.

Anne Candido 33:42
She’s here all week. Sorry. So good. Okay. So this is one actually that I feel did not leverage them or it’s not it was not leveraging the marketing smarts very well. And that’s Crunch Fitness. And that’s the gym that I go through. And I’m hold state exactly which one it’s at, because, well, you probably it’s probably a national campaign, so whatever. But they have these pop up posters to sell their personal training. And the pop ups poster says will help you reach any goal and then it has a little superstar says unless your goal is to steal the Mona Lisa. Oh, geez, you

April Martini 34:18
gotta be kidding me. It said that I got chills in a very bad way.

Anne Candido 34:24
I read it and then I reread it and I was like, I don’t even understand what that means in the context of a gym and now I’m gonna go rewind to our brand character and tone of voice episode April because when I think about that, and I think about the brand character of that gym, in a tone of voice at the gym, this feels like somebody is trying to be very cheeky. Oh, yeah, right. It’s what I was gonna say. Yep. But it’s not aligned with the brand character while the cheeky brand it’s not a cheeky brand. It’s kind of like it’s supposed to be a brand and they do this all over the gym, which is basically You’re here to achieve whatever goal you want to achieve. And we’re here to help support you, right? It’s, there’s no funny isms anywhere in that gym. And so it feels like it’s totally out of place. Well, I

April Martini 35:12
think like, I don’t go there, but what like my experience of everything from like the brand mark to Yes, the advertising and stuff, it’s pretty actually serious and a little bit leans into intense, not in a bad way. But it is like that hole.

Anne Candido 35:26
If you’re here, you’re here to work. And that’s exactly the case. And that’s exactly what you would see when you go to the gym. Like it was a difference between when we had LA Fitness. And I went over. And I mean, this sounds extremely stereotypical. And I’m so sorry. But I have to say, in order to exemplify the point, where you have like, the, you know, moms and you know, who are there just to kind of like pedal around on the pre chorus, like that, right? Yeah, their hair still down there, their targets different, it’s just different. And so then when I went to that gym, because I’m like, oh, people are here to work out. Like, sometimes it’s kind of funny, but it’s like, but they’re here to work out. That’s the mentality of the gym. So for that, it’s like, I don’t even get this. So for me, what I would say about that is, is this is an example of trying to stretch too far, and not really honoring your brand fundamentals, and then left with something of like, I don’t think that makes me feel like I should go sign up for personal training right now in the gym. Right? So that’s my marketing smarts moment.

April Martini 36:25
Yeah, they would have done far better to actually lean harder into what we talked about around being here to work and achieve your goals. And it’s a little bit serious, and promoting it from a if you’re ready to get to the next level, but you aren’t sure how to get there and you need, you know, individual then here’s what we have, right? Yeah, it was like actually a really good opportunity to lean right into that brand character.

Anne Candido 36:47
Exactly. And so I’m like, I was very confused. I was very confused. I’m like, this kind of proved who approved this. So I even have a picture of it because I was like, well, the picture is off brand too. But I won’t get into that because you guys can’t see it. But yeah, some of the fonts and stuff on like, where did that come from? In there’s no images on it? Yeah, okay. Okay. So anyway, I digress. So just to recap the art of respectful debate how to disagree without being contentious versus to take responsibility for a current set of beliefs and assumptions Use I statements not use statements. No one your being objective or subjective either way is valid you just need to acknowledge the origin so you know feelings are at play. Establish objective sources to help as references for discussions. There are don’t let it get personal. As soon as a person’s character is being challenged, respectful part of the debate ceases to exist. At this point, the conversation needs to be halted. Finally, define and consistently reinforce a common goal. This is critical to building highly functioning teams, which leads to establishing a cultural mindset that we are all in this together. And it takes all of us to achieve this. And with that, we’ll say go and exercise your Marketing Smarts!

April Martini 37:51
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