Caucus Office Politics: Bad Hair Day
In retrospect, it was probably blown way out of proportion, but it happened nonetheless.
John Edwards needed a haircut. When you're on the campaign trail, you have to look your best at all times, and getting a good trim is difficult. So, you see if you can get a reputable stylist to make a house call. To your private jet. On the tarmac. Then you pay him $400 and send him on his way. Realistically, it was probably a cut for which he would have spent $50-70 if he had gone into the salon, so the $400 is reasonable from the stylists' view, who most likely had to forfeit a half day's worth of business to accommodate Edwards. And the haircut had to happen, because if the media get a hold of a picture of you with bad hair, a picture like that can haunt you through the rest of the campaign. So the $400 haircut seemed reasonable. He could afford it. He needed it. It happened. So, what's the problem?
The problem is that John Edwards has been trying to pass himself off as the "working man's" candidate. He's one of us. He was raised poor in the South (um, yeah). And now he's pushing for you, the little guy, and he wants your vote tonight.
I truly think that Edwards believes he has good intentions. But he made the error in judgment of spending $400 on a commodity where most of the people he is trying to reach maybe spend 2-3% of that amount for the same service... or they do it themselves. And certainly never in a private jet on a tarmac.
Office politics is mostly about perception. There may be a perfectly good explanation for your actions, but if those same actions can be twisted around, they probably will be. My first boss out of college had a habit of using the phrase "in all fairness" when she was trying to sell us on a concept. The more times she used the phrase, the more unfair we knew the policy actually was going to be. We would do IAF counts at meetings to figure out how much we were getting screwed over. Shrewd office politicians - both for positive and negative actions - know how to play with perception and use it to their advantage. A lot of perception starts with self-awareness, though, so if you don't have a keen grasp of how you are coming across, you may be challenged in understanding how others perceive you.
So, how are you managing the "spin" that revolves around you?