Massage and Bodywork Magazine for the Visually Impaired - Righting a Wrong

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September/October 2014 Issue

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Righting a Wrong

By Leslie A. Young
[Editor's Note]

The blog title was straightforward: “I Get Happy-Ending Massages and It Helps My Marriage.” The description was open-minded: “It may not be a typical arrangement, but it works for this mom.” But the situation was just wrong.
In July, the massage profession lashed out immediately when posted one woman’s first-person story online. A flood of comments hit the Internet as practitioners voiced their outrage. As ABMP’s vice president communication, I scripted a letter to Redbook’s editors, vetted it with ABMP President Les Sweeney, and emailed it off; their response was swift, professional, and constructive. Redbook Editor-in-Chief Meredith Rollins apologized, admitted they had no idea how inflammatory the posting was to the profession (male MTs in particular), and immediately took down the article.
While massage therapy has come a long way toward acceptance, there are still some who recklessly blend it with conversations about prostitution. ABMP is honored to represent its more than 80,000 members, but the effect is even more powerful if we all work together to help educate the uninitiated about the profession.
Here are some guidelines I follow when I need to right a wrong. Hopefully they will help empower you (use these same rules of polished engagement in face-to-face, verbal exchanges; you may have to quickly put on a smile or bite your lip as you collect your thoughts, but the end result will serve you well):
• Make sure you read the objectionable piece completely, with an open mind. If you’re going to be a critic, you have to be knowledgeable about your target—even if it offends you.
• Keep your cool and avoid getting angry as you craft your response. How many times have you regretted something you said or an action you performed while you were upset? This is the time to collect yourself so you can respond in the most effective way possible.
• Find common ground. As difficult as it may be, if you can find something in common with your opposition, you’ll more quickly be on your way to a positive resolution. Acknowledge that common ground as you move forward with your response.
• Define your goal. Before you dive into your challenge, what’s your desired outcome? An apology? Common understanding? Keep that goal in mind throughout your response and make sure to communicate it to your opposition.
• Always take the high road and remember, two wrongs don’t equal a right. Whether initiating a complaint or responding to feedback, make sure you’re responding professionally, without attitude. If your opposition responds negatively or aggressively (which, luckily, did not happen in this case), don’t engage in a race to the bottom.
• If you can, script your response, then let it sit overnight. Do you sound rabid, or balanced? Are you proud of the way you come across? Does your communication reflect the nurturing nature of the profession?
• Avoid operating in isolation. If you have a friend or colleague who can edit and/or screen your communication before you circulate it, by all means benefit from the advice.
Remember, it takes a village to represent the massage therapy profession. Ideally, today’s opposition is tomorrow’s ally. Once detractors are educated about the nature of therapeutic massage, it’s not difficult to transition them into being ambassadors as well. Leaders in our field are now working with Redbook staff on several articles about the benefits of massage therapy and the challenges the profession faces.

Leslie A. Young, Editor-in-Chief

To read this article in our digital issue, click here.

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