But It’s Not About You!

November 11, 2013
Mary Jane Copps


Driving home from Guysborough last Tuesday I had ample opportunity to listen to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s apology statement. It played on the radio  several times and, of course, there are lots of similarities between radio content and a phone conversation.  While I could comment on many things about the ridiculous situation in Toronto politics, what struck me most was Rob Ford’s  choice of words.

Consider these statements:

“I know I have embarrassed everyone”

“I will forever be sorry”

“I know that admitting my mistakes was the right thing to do and I feel like 1,000 pounds have been lifted off my shoulders”

“I have nothing left to hide”

“I was embarrassed and ashamed”

“I can’t do anything else but apologize”

“I sincerely sincerely sincerely sincerely apologize”

Now, put this in the context of customer service or sales. Can you hear it? The apology shouldn’t have been about Rob Ford! If his apology is genuine, if he really wants to serve the City and its people, if he truly wants to stand and be of service, then his language would be vastly different.

Consider these possibilities:

“You have been embarrassed by me and my behaviour”

“You have been lied to by me”

“I apologize to you. What can I do to regain your trust?”

The #1 rule of great communication is “It’s Not About You”.  Rob Ford’s apology statement is an amazing example of how not to speak with your clients and customers:


The Phone Lady On the Road


15 – Phone Etiquette for Your Job Search with VANSDA in Yarmouth

20 – Phone Fear to Phone Fabulous in Halifax – CEED SEB (open to the public)

21 – Greater Burnside Business Association Luncheon – A Burst of Learning with The Lunch Pack (open to the public with registration)

25 – Rockstar Social Media for Small Businesses – Free Lunch and Learn in Halifax through Twirp Communications (open to the public but limited space)

26 – Grow Your Business at The Hub Halifax – Open to Entrepreneurs/Small Business Owners with Registration


12 – Phone Etiquette for Your Job Search in Halifax with Phoenix Learning and Employment Centre

19 – Telephone Skills for Excellent Customer Service in Dartmouth with St. John Ambulance NS/PEI Council

20 – Telephone Talent presentation in Sackville with Sun Life Financial











  1. Steve Foran says:

    Insightful and concisely said.

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Thanks, Steve. I fussed a bit about this post as I don’t usually tap into current affairs, but over the radio his language was so obviously self-centred!

  2. peggy says:

    My sentiments exact about how Rob Ford “apologized.” But I couldn’t put my finger on how the his language was so off.

    • The Phone Lady says:

      Thanks, Peggy, for sharing your thoughts. Funny how we instinctively know when something isn’t “right”. The media sound bites often prevent us from hearing exactly what’s wrong.

  3. Paul Mombourquette says:

    Wow, well said MJ., I love how you take these experiences and use them to help others to communicate better.

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