L.A. Metrolink spokesperson, Denise Tyrrell, resigns in response to criticism that she prematurely blamed train engineer for fatal crash. Is honesty still the best policy?
As the L.A. Times just reported, the spokesperson for L.A.'s Metrolink system has resigned under withering criticism for taking responsibility for the cause of a fatal crash between a commuter train and a freight train the day after the tragedy. (By then, she was already privy to the initial investigation results showing that the engineer of the commuter train ran a red light.) She gave her CEO the advice I would have given: "be honest and upfront … rebuild public trust." The CEO approved it and then, under pressure, said that his permission was "premature." He did not ask Tyrrell to reconsider her resignation. Even prominent attorneys, who often counsel against saying anything that could be construed as admitting culpability, took her side, including the attorney/executive director of California Common Cause. Others, including a member of the Metrolink board, counseled taking the weasel-word way out. Tyrrell says she's being treated "like an overwhelmed, menopausal woman" instead of the pro she clearly showed herself to be.
Now I ask, which approach to communication is likely to build better relationships with the commuting public: truth or lies?