Where do you go for news you can use?
Although opinion polls aren’t always on the same page, they concur that distrust of social media is increasing globally. Reflecting the nation’s deepening political divide, Americans’ confidence in mass media—criticized for selectively reporting and editorializing the news—has also dropped steadily over several decades.
Individuals and organizations should pay attention. When people sense or see that pushing an agenda matters more to someone than speaking the plain truth, they’ll scrutinize any information coming from that source.
Consider four common tools of deception:
1. Sneaky Suspicion – Rephrases or injects words to raise doubt
Straightforward: In the managers’ meeting, John said, “I am committed to resolving the issues between sales and shipping. We’ve already identified three operational improvements to be announced next week.”
Slanted: In the managers’ meeting, John claimed he cared about resolving the issues between sales and shipping, so let’s see what happens regarding the so-called "improvements" supposedly coming next week.
2. Overt Omission – Suppresses key information to control opinions and outcomes
Straightforward: Bob and Sue are equally qualified to manage the project.
Slanted: Bob is optimally qualified to manage the project.
3. Dubious Depiction – Gives a false impression (yet doesn’t tell a blatant lie) to manage perceptions
Straightforward: The new XYZ representative asked if we would be willing to reschedule the meeting from this Thursday to next Friday so her CEO has an opportunity to attend.
Slanted: The new XYZ representative is already asking us to accommodate her schedule by switching the meeting that’s been on the calendar for a month from this Thursday to next Friday.
4. Personal Position – States opinions to plant notions that facts alone don’t support
Straightforward: Mayor Murphy, who is running for reelection, offered to man the podium for the annual community service banquet. The committee accepted because he pleased the crowd last year, and no other volunteers came forward.
Slanted: Since Mayor Murphy is in the midst of running for reelection, the committee should not be endorsing his campaign by allowing him to emcee the annual community service banquet again this year.
Abraham Lincoln gave us the quote, “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
It’s unwise to assume that an audience won’t detect manipulation and/or outright deception. Consequently, besides reading between the lines of other people’s messages, we should take a step back to assess what we’re reporting.
• Is the information accurate?
• Is it complete?
• Is it fair?
• Is it merely an opinion?
We all have motivations for communicating; however, if every other word is laced with an agenda, then we risk losing credibility among the very people we so diligently aim influence. Once they tune out and turn away, their willingness to listen, much less have faith in what we say, could be lost forever.
My best to you,
Sallie W. Boyles, a.k.a. Write Lady
Thoughts or questions? Please contact Sallie Boyles, owner of Write Lady Inc., to exchange ideas about effective communications and gain from professional writing and editing services. Receive monthly tips and insights by subscribing at https://WriteLady.com.