Don't Take It Personal

Last week I had a very tense email exchange with someone. We had a 3-4 email exchange where I expressed my point and then they expressed theirs. Before I go much further there is a quick point to note about me; I don’t read tone in emails or texts and I believe doing so could be harmful. So, in the last email I received back there were words that literally made me Laugh Out Loud. The email read, Don’t Take It Personal. Even as I write this I find myself chuckling because at that moment I realized that only a man would make such a statement. My next thought was let me re-read our exchange, which was brief, to the point with no fluff (not even an emoticon or exclamation). I believe that his thought was that as a woman I have to conduct everything, including my business, in an emotional state. However, that is not true and I am quite opposite; I am logical and analytical and while I use my intuition I also believe in just plain and simple truths and hard facts. Period!

I get over things extremely quickly but something about these words kept creeping into my mind. Partially because an R&B singer by the name of Monica had a song called “Don’t Take it Personal” and I was bopping along to it in my head. But the other reason was because I recently was asked in an interview for the Tennessee Economic Council on Women publication about the differences in the workplace for women and men and what my hopes were for making them better. I realized that this was one of those ‘things’ that a man would say to a women in the workplace and never be challenged about it. I also realized that as women we work too hard on perfection and often take a lot of things personally as opposed to examining the facts and presenting them as such.

These four words brought up some initial thoughts from me, some of which I have shared above and a few more I have shared below. As always please allow me to share what I have learned.

Men and women are different: As much as I really want us to just handle business without gender being a part of the conversation I’m not sure we can. We are built differently and only a man would think our email exchange meant I was having a fussy moment. Aside from our obvious differences there are some other differences like our communication, management, and leadership.

Don’t cry: ‘If you have to cry then you need to go outside’ was the infamous line by fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone on the MTV show Kell on Earth. Guess what, I agree. I understand that some might lean on emotion as a part of the ‘game’ played once we get to the job (or table) but we must understand that we have to get there first. If you want to have an even playing field you have to learn when and when not and how and how not. As a woman in business I believe we deserve a place at the table BUT that becomes harder to advocate for if you are perceived as an emotional basket case before you even get there.  (Some) Men already have their perception, let’s prove them wrong.

Listen to your first mind: As a part of the Business Journal’s interview I was asked what advice I would give to the young, professional woman and my answer was “Listen to your first mind.” When I first started my business I would sit at home late at night and analyze every conversation and each decision I made questioning if I had said or done the right things. I would say ‘I should have said that instead’ or ‘I hope when I said xyz they weren’t upset’. Around the top of the second year I made a commitment not to be so hard on myself or take things so personally and that I need to learn to tap into my own self-trust. So this goes for you also, you are trusted by clients and colleagues and you owe it to them to give them wise counsel without second guessing your strong decisions. As an entrepreneur, if you have not already, you will (hopefully) develop a keen sense of intuition; you should allow it to lead you.

Conflict is like a band-aid: The best way to take off a band-aid is quickly. As an entrepreneur sometimes conflict should be handled the same way. Have you ever not said something because you weren’t sure how the other person would respond? It’s not a matter of if but when conflict will happen. As a business owner or middle/senior manager it is important to prepare yourself for tough conversations because it is sometimes the nature of business. Pull quick and allow the sting to subside just as quickly.

While I’m still chuckling as I write, I learned many things in that 10 minute set of moments and here is a quick set of take-away’s; we can all lighten up a little more, men say the darndest things, and of lastly, don’t take so much personally!!

Stay inspired!

Kia Jarmon is a brand strategist and PR coach with boutique public relations firm, The MEPR Agency.  She speaks, blogs, mentors, and is soon to be an author.  You can find more information at her personal brand site,

What They Don't Tell You About Public Relations

So I wrote a piece about what you should know if you Want a Career in Public Relations!  Apparently, it is was extremely helpful because I receive quite a bit of emails and calls from PR newbies! Well if that was helpful then I want to add just a touch more for aspiring flacks so you have a true understanding of the behind the scenes rules of PR.

Of my years running MEPR Agency I have had the privilege of working with some really amazing young, rising stars.  But I believe even as dynamic as anyone is there is always room for improvement.  This is a compilation of some of the areas you only learn…the hard way!

The industry is really small: I know, I know everywhere you look there are PR pros, publicists, social media gurus, and marketers and promoters impeding on the space too.  But the reality is that within your market you will find some key firms and then whittle it down to the key influencers within those companies.  Those people, the ones at the tops of firms, all speak to each other, do lunch (or tea in my case), sub-contract work with each other, and ultimately make the decisions within your city or industry.   The bottom line is that you never know what one relationship can turn into and on the flip you never know if you don’t get the job because of a previous mishap.  Keep it cool, don’t burn bridges, be thankful, and remain humble!

We do actually talk to each other: There is such a large myth that I want to dispel.  My competitors are not my enemies; we just work for different agencies.  I love working in PR in Nashville because I know some great PR folks.  While I don’t chat with them all the time I know that I am able to call on most as our schedules fit. Bottom line: read the last two sentences of #1.

You can be blacklisted: Very rarely I meet up with a colleague, have a phone chat or just run into them and I get some disturbing news.  What could it possibly be? “Have you heard XYZ is unable to find a new position?” You see every now and again there is just such a stench on a person that can’t be dusted off.  Remember, that each decision we make can directly affect the rest of our lives and our career. Don’t get stopped before you even get started by having an off the record convo with a reporter, using inappropriate or unscripted language during a crisis, or even fraternizing within the workplace.   Bottom line: be careful to stay off the ‘list’!

You are being followed: I, along with many of my colleagues, believe in virtual stalking. Before you get scared and click off let me share what that means.  Virtual Stalking is the opportunity for me as an employer to go far beyond a basic Google search and begin really digging into your online footprint for fact checking.  If this was a recording I would suggest you pause the tape (do they make those anymore) and do an intense scrubbing of your online profiles.   It’s not a matter of taking down vacation pictures but it is a chance for you to add work skills, examples, and even a resume…wow, what a thought!

Google could change your life: Ok so now you have the job and you are asked to work on some client research.  In that moment Google could become your best friend and help you navigate what competitors are saying, the tone or language that the client uses, and even any gripes that might be out there from former customers of the client.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions but by all means if it is something that you can search for then please do!

Instructions should only be given once so take notes: one of my biggest gripes with the younger generation is the thought that they can retain everything.  If you have a weekly meeting by all means please bring some paper and pen or an ipad to take notes.  The worst thing is to leave and then get bombarded with 20 questions that were all answered in the previous meeting.  Now I do believe you should be able to ask follow up questions and there is nothing wrong with being even more knowledgeable but if you ask the same question or have trouble with something covered it is a great indicator of how you will act/react when given larger responsibilities.  So, if all else fails bring your cell phone and take some quick bullet pointed notes.

This is one of the hardest industries you will encounter: I truly believe that aside from medicine, science, the military, and police, EMT, and firefighters, public relations might be among the hardest industries.  This is not frilly or Samantha Jones-esque by any stretch and you may have many days with tears, anger, or even wanting to quit.  As you are on your journey looking for an opportunity or if you are a newbie at a firm make the best of every moment, even the tough ones.  Honestly, you will have two opinions: you will understand your value OR you will run away and never look back.  It is my hope through programs like the Mentorship Project that you will stick it out and make an impact.

Thankless but rewarding! Of course I can’t leave you on a sour note because this last thought is so true.  You don’t always receive a ton of hugs and bouquets of flowers but I will say that the PR industry is extremely rewarding. I encourage you to find your specific passion and try to work in it, even on a small scale, so that you can feel the reward as you impact communities and empower people to movement. After all isn’t that why you entered this career?

Kia Jarmon is a brand strategist and PR coach with boutique public relations firm, The MEPR Agency. She speaks, blogs,mentors, and is soon to be an author. You can find more information at her personal brand site,