Tears are always the best. Other acceptable forms include nervous laughter, your jaw tightening and releasing, long silences with an uncomfortable smile or when you excuse yourself for no reason and return with a Kleenex. Nothing is better than tears, though. It means I’ve done what I was sent to do. It means we are talking about something real and we have moved past the robotic talking points you keep trying to hand me. It means my readers get a story.
When covering a story, I don’t set out to make anyone cry or become emotional at all. But my job is to dig in – to know when to be patient and when to be impatient – to know when to listen and when to ask – to listen to what you are not saying and to be curious. If you get emotional, it triggers an instinct.
The funny thing is I don’t spend all my time as a journalist. Most of the time, I am on the other side of the table. I am the PR guy hammering out talking points and training my clients on how to prepare to talk to the media.