After reading a previous post about dealing with the myriad problems that pop up when working in TV, writer Jean Buchanan sent me this true story. It is such a great illustration of how best to help an anxious guest that I asked to share it with you all.
If you are a runner, a researcher – in fact anyone who may find themselves having to look after guests on a radio or TV show – then take note of this wise advice as written (beautifully) by Jean.
It reminded me of a conversation I had with my friend Liz (editor of a high-profile dictionary of quotations) some time ago. Liz was waiting to go on a Radio 4 magazine programme, and she was in the green room with another person, a Distinguished Lady high up in the civil service who had just been the subject of public scrutiny, had been rather hammered by the press and was consequently feeling rather fragile. But Liz became conscious that this Distinguished Lady was becoming more agitated as time went on and they were still not called.
It was then that Liz, profiting from her experience as a doctor’s daughter in a rural practice, asked one of the most useful and helpful questions I have ever come across: “Is there something in particular that you’re worried about?”
And it turned out that Distinguished Lady had a very elderly cat that was at the vet’s having treatment and she wanted to check up on how it was doing. So Liz asked a kind PA to make a phonecall, and the message came back that the cat was recovering nicely. This reassured the Distinguished Lady, so she relaxed, did her bit on the programme, and went down a storm.
So, I offer it for your readers — one of the most useful questions in the world when people seem uneasy for no evident reason: “Is there something in particular that you’re worried about?”
Brilliant advice and huge thanks to Jean for sharing it. If you have any good stories or advice please let us know or leave them in the comments below.