Defend yourself against allegations of corruption: a how-to for public officials

Categorically deny all the allegations. Merely denying allegations is no longer enough. It is recommended that you be forceful and definite in your denial, so as to be perceived as a man with convictions and values. However, you must also note that categorically denying allegations is also not enough; you have to back it up with facts that may or may not be relevant to the subject being addressed. (Please note that you can use other adverbs in place of "categorically," but our findings suggest that other terms have a lower effectively.)

Emphasize on your origins. Keep in mind that your audience are, for the most part, not sophisticated, and can therefore be easily swayed, provided you give them the right fact to latch on to. A relatable origin story has helped many public officials gain sympathy, later translated to support, from an audience. We acknowledge, however, that not everybody has beginnings that can be emphasized effectively. As a rule of thumb, rags-to-riches stories work best: illustrating your lower-class origins and how you worked your way to the top shows that you have overcome all your challenges and, thus, can overcome allegations against you. Otherwise - especially if you come from a privileged background - we recommend that you mention working for yourself and not relying on other people to get to where you are today. It may not be as forceful, but our studies find that it can also be similarly effective.

Illustrate your current position as the height of your success. Do not make the mistake of expressing your ambition; it makes your audience suspicious and, therefore, not as receptive to your denials and rebuttals. However, we acknowledge that, in some cases, previous outings may have, implicitly or explicitly, revealed your future plans. In any case, we recommend that, no matter what the reality is, you state that your current position is the height of your success. Imply that you are happy where you are now, and that you are happiest doing the work you have been tasked to do at this very moment.

List down your achievements and emphasize on the difference they have made. Any defense against any allegation against you is more effective if you have the numbers to back it up. However, do note that these numbers do not have to be exact or positive. We recommend, if not encourage, that you massage your facts. The goal in any defense is not to state the truth; the goal is to support your argument. Stating the absolute truth, most of the time, leads to deeper complications and can both negate your plans and bolster the opposition. Therefore, we suggest the best way forward is to only mention details that will emphasize a positive change that you have enacted through your current position. It would be better if you could show that only you can enact said change, and nobody else. Just keep in mind to elaborate on these facts as much as possible, so as to overwhelm the audience with positive facts and to push the allegations away, if only momentarily.

Admit to a few minor mistakes. While your audience is mostly not sophisticated, there is a lesser chance that they will see you as perfect and infallible. Human nature dictates that flaws will be sought out and eventually found; human nature also dictates that these flaws are tolerated and even embraced as long as they are within acceptable bounds. While not every situation allows for this - we understand that you may want to portray yourself as perfect and infallible in some cases - we suggest that you admit to a few minor mistakes. However, these mistakes should be inconsequential and easily forgivable; our findings point to these usually being clerical or technological errors.

Address the motivations of the opposition. You are now in a position to question the intentions of the people who are raising allegations against you. Your audience are not very discerning: they are more than willing to resort to the good guy versus bad guy trope. As the person on the defensive end, you are in the best position to portray your adversaries as those with interests that go counter to the audience's expectations. (Remember that these expectations are automatically yours, at least for the purpose of your defense.) The most effective way of doing so is to suggest that your adversaries have vested interests, whose chances of being served decrease because of your achievements and the resulting positive change. State that they want to reverse the results only you have made. Imply that once this happens, the result will be catastrophic to your audience. Your audience, by now overwhelmed with irrelevant figures and patronized into a simplistic way of looking at things, will most definitely take your side. Our figures suggest there is a high probability of this happening.

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