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Does Your Communication Set off Bullshit Detectors?

You have to communicate, right? It’s part of the deal.  And you want also to be believed.

Famously, 93% of communication isn’t our words, it’s the nonverbals around it.

The problem is, sometimes you are telling the truth but you seem like you’re lying:

(In Case Youtube Breaks the link, this is the Anchorman II scene where Ron Burgundy tells the truth but seems to be lying).

The mark of the novice communicator is sounding insincere.  False. Inauthentic. It’s the death knell of many leaders. “Didn’t connect.”  See below – a moment that killed a campaign for president from a fairly qualified individual:

In case Youtube someday breaks the link, this is Jeb! and the infamous “Please Clap” moment.

He doesn’t connect because he’s reciting. He’s seems overly rehearsed (which, incidentally is almost always caused by actually being under-rehearsed).  This thing feels like a performance, and not a window into Jeb’s soul.  His campaign was killed here.

It’s why humblebrags are a bad idea. Because the very essence of them is an ironic slap in the face at sincerity.  False humility is worse than real arrogance.  Hence, those the hunblebrag are rightly scorned.

We flee – instinctually – from insincerity. Because we hate being fooled.

The problem with that?

A lot of the times it’s easy to send false positives and appear insincere even when you aren’t.  It’s really a simple matter of poor communication.

How Bad Communication Creates A False Appearance of Bullshit

When you use hyperbole and puffery in the spot where knowledge should be.  You’re new to something. And you love it. But you’re not completely well versed, so enthusiasm takes the place of where knowledge should be. This creates a situation where you naturally oversell things.  You don’t have sufficient backup.  So you bullshit. Think of your favorite CrossFit guy or Paleo guy.  They don’t have the facts, they just know that this is working for them. And they want to persuade.

When you are trying to persuade, yet you take half-measures: 

The worst is the sales prospecting call by an amateur.  We’ve all had it

You: “Hello?”

Bad Salesman: “Hey, I’m looking for Chris.”

You: “This is chris.”

B.S.:  Great, My name is Steve, how are you today?”

Kill me now.  Terrible way to start a call.

If he had gotten to the point, said “I have something (specific) of value to offer, want it?” That’s a different story

The other example is the acquaintance on Facebook that never speaks to you except now they have a financial opportunity, dietary cleanse or something else.

Why?  Because the caller honestly doesn’t care.  And if he does, he’s a sick puppy that’s been stalking me for too long.  The dude wants to sell me something. Totally fine.  Make the GD case for the value of that thing.  

When you want too badly to be liked.

We’ve all been there. Talked to a vendor or provider that not only wants to do the job but has to be ingratiating.  A waiter without skill interrupts your dinner with stories and doesn’t do a fantastic job.  Someone that talks about how hard their job is.

This is bad – so bad – because people don’t trust someone

When You Don’t End With Authority

A lot of time speakers and others will end sentences vaguely. In lieu of making a bold and strong statement, they will wander. The wandering sews seeds of doubt, and instead of getting that communication is hard, we think that the person is insincere.

Why we do this & How To Fix It

First, we have to remember that barring mental illness, communication is always the responsibility of the sender.

For receivers, it’s simpler to simply reject an idea than it is to dig into why we don’t believe someone. And as a receiver we just reject it and don’t think too deeply about it.

We fix it with Empathy and security.

Empathy tells us exactly how the other person would feel in a situation like the one we’ve presented to them .

Security in our own selves allows us to not have the damning need to be liked by others.

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Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is writing this blog. He's a startup veteran, having built a company called Simplifilm. This blog is about things that he's starting to - but may not actually - think yet. It publishes irregularly.

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