Relationship Diplomacy Based on Humility

by | Feb 18, 2019 | Ramblings/Off-Topic | 13 comments

The Finesse of Humility

Lord knows, I’m no paragon of equanimity.  My hackles get up when my favorite cause is twisted on Twitter, faulted on FaceBook, or ignited on Instagram.  But I do know how to curry relationships, and (not always, but) more often than not, humility plays an important part.

Luckily, a lifetime of living under journalism-imposed neutrality (yes, truly a thing of the past) trained me to stay out of the fray.  99% of the time, it was the right choice.


A Real-World Example

For the last several months, I’ve been producing original video content for a new website that will launch in the Spring.  The idea is to have it there — free and engaging stories — waiting for visitors as they begin to discover the site.

I’d been working on profiling a standout member of our community and a global (and very visual athletic) competition in which he was participating.  The event coordinators had hired a top-notch production crew to record video of all aspects of the challenge.  I was assured that the organizers would be only too happy to share that great footage to further the reach of their event.  This is good news.  All I had to do was conduct a pre- and post-event interview with the object of our story, and fill the gap with B-roll gleaned from the event production crew.

I had sent a cordial pre-event email introducing myself, explaining the hope of acquiring rights to some of the footage, and mentioning the person here in Las Vegas who was part of the competition.

No answer.

That’s fine, I knew the event planners were up to their kiesters in details.  But at least I had established a beach-head in what I knew would probably be a series of reminders in this battle to get noticed.

Answering vitriol with same rarely results in sanguine resolution Click To Tweet

During the event, an email from the person I was profiling reiterated that he had mentioned my request to the organizers, and it was his belief that getting rights to use the video would not be a problem.

Once he returned from his competition, I again pinged the people in charge of the event.  I was seeing Vimeo postings of the footage, and it was really good!  They were very organized on their website with press-releases, video snippets, and a contact form to fill out for requests.

I sent another query, this time noting that it was my 3rd attempt at contact, with no response.  I again stated my request, mentioned the person I was profiling, the site I was representing, and asking for video permissions.

My first response from that organization was terse, and had a scolding tone:

“…I don’t care if it’s your third request , I’m dealing with hundreds of messages, it’s not the way to ask for something that’s not owed to you. I would have been back to you today but your request is not time sensitive for me…”

I was miffed, and ready to fire-off an equally angry reply.

But you know what?  He was right.  The video was not owed to me.  It’s not like I was representing ESPN or BBC.  He was probably short on sleep, patience, and media fools.  I knew a vindictive reply would most certainly not result in my request being granted, and besides, I really COULD’VE left off the mention that it was my 3rd request.

So this is what I sent back to him:  

“…Thanks for your response, and my apologies for pressing you.  That was not my intention…just following-up with a message trail.  I know you must be swamped.  I will wait for your response when the time right…”

In scant minutes, I rec’d this follow-up reply:

“…It’s OK 🙂  Please feel free to use.  Mr. XXX (the subject of my profile) is a lovely guy!…”

I was floored.  Maybe he was just waiting for me to give it back to him.  But I didn’t.  I swallowed my pride, and offered some humble pie…and he immediately softened.

I replied that he and his team did awesome work.  His immediate reply back again was to thank me and apologize for the delay.

Answering vitriol with same rarely results in sanguine resolution.  I just realized I had schooled myself in relationship diplomacy with humility.  I know this doesn’t always work, but from now on, I’ll consider that option before popping off a torrid answer.  

After all, this voiceover business is built on relationship, right?  The better we get at it, the more positive results we see.  Do I really lose by taking the more humble position?  Who actually comes out bigger in that interaction…you, or the other guy?




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  1. Tracy Lindley

    Nicely handled, Dave! As the saying goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar” and I’ve found it to be absolutely true in both my personal and professional life. Great post!

    • CourVO

      Thanks, Tracy!

      I could’ve predicted you would like the sentiment in this blog, ’cause it speaks to your standard mode-of-operation…always magnanimous!


      Dave Courvoisier

  2. Nancy Isaacs

    I almost never comment or provide feedback on FB, Instagram, blogs, newsletters, etc., but I just want you to know I appreciate your knowledge and experiences and willingness to share them so openly. Thanks so much.

    • CourVO


      Your response made my day! I usually stay in the comment background too…but once in a while, it feels good to offer some feedback.


      Dave Courvoisier

  3. Wade

    Great blog Dave. When ego trumps desired results we will most often not get what we are looking for. Humble Pie Rules!

    • CourVO


      I appreciate the support…and heck, just being a reader of my musings.

      Dave Courvoisier

  4. ladychamberlain

    Great post, Dave! In this day and age, sadly, there are those who participate in/encourage incivility and profane language on social media, public venues, and in their homes.
    Humbleness is appropriate in all situations, in my view. Especially in the face of these new behaviors we are witnessing.
    Personally, I don’t want to be like them. I want to be the person who is the peacemaker; who calms a situation and guides it onto a peaceful resolution.
    Seems to me, when I humble myself, get out of the way, and let God’s words handle the situation instead of me, things work out for the best for all concerned.
    Humbleness is part of self-control and self-responsibility; a rare quality to find these days. Folks are so busy blaming others for their problems, that they don’t take the time to look at themselves as the source of their ills. They prefer to remain ignorant, or worse, stupid, about how they impact their own lives and the lives of those around them.
    Thank-you, Dave, for putting yourself out there in the name of Goodness.

    Blessings to you and your family,

    • CourVO


      Thanks so much for extrapolating the unwritten code beneath my blog today. You pegged it! I appreciate you more than you know.

      Dave Courvoisier
      (just one member of the “DC” club: others include Derrick Chappell, and (sadly) David Ciccarelli)

  5. brigganobryan

    I loved this; thanks, Dave!

    I’m on the same page with you. I wish that I’d learned that lesson when I was younger, but it was only around the time I turned 40 that I realized that I didn’t have the energy or willingness to hold onto other people’s vitriol, and that my own ego was no longer so precious to me. ……except for the 10 year old profile pic I’m using,….:) Thanks again!

    • CourVO

      Thanks for commenting….’never too old (as they say). I’m glad you found some value in this post Briggan!

      dave c

  6. stephen hammill

    FIX’D: “…I didn’t mean to press you. I meant to beat your sorry A55 into submission!”


    That would have felt better than humble tastes, but “you catch more bees with honey.”

    • CourVO

      Stephen,,,,Oh, that is so tempting isn’t it? Sometimes I wait 24 hours before even responding…usually that takes all the piss ‘n’ vinegar out of my response…but not always.

      Thanks for reading big guy!

      Dave C

  7. Deidre Ann Johnson


    Great response. I’ve also had swallow some humble pie on occasion that I get on a high horse to get information. Never works. Apologizing and understanding are always the way to go


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