5 white lies about communication

These “white lies” are the untruths communicators use to console themselves after a mediocre performance. They are powerful because they’re plausible. Above all, don’t fool yourself.

Too often, business communication sucks. Why? We’re not willing to look ourselves in the mirror when we don’t cut it.

We tell ourselves little white lies to make us feel, “Hey, it’s not so bad.” But if you want to get better, it’s time to get real.

Here are the five white lies about communication:

White lie No. 1: If I say the words, people will get it.

Does this sound familiar: You prepare a carefully scripted, bulleted presentation. You think, “If I get through these points, they’ll get it.”

We’ve all fallen into this trap—and it’s no good. It’s boring. When you cling to the script, meaningful connection is lost. Ditch the script.

Download this free white paper to learn how to tell compelling stories that navigate through the noise, boost your brand and drive sales.

White lie No. 2: When I’m “on,” I’m great.

The best communicators don’t turn “off” and “on.” They’re always “on” because they’re always themselves. When you’re “on,” this often comes off as overly polished, formal, and fake. Listeners want to hear and see the real you.

White lie No. 3: I don’t need to prep. I can wing it.

When you’ve got back-to-back meetings from 9 to 3, it feels like there’s no time to prep, but even the smallest amount of preparation makes a big difference. You should always be able to answer the question “So what?” before speaking. Points if you can name the action you want your listeners to take and the benefit to them.

White lie No. 4: People tell me I’m pretty good at speaking.

Honest feedback is hard to come by. No one likes saying, “That was pretty awful.” Feedback is sugarcoated. Your job is to become aware of how you actually come across. That’s why the cornerstone of our Communicate to Influence training is video feedback.

White lie No. 5: It’s not the way we do things here.

Just because you’ve always done things one way, doesn’t mean you have to keep doing that. Many of our clients see senior executives read a script or PowerPoint—then fall prey to doing this themselves. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

Admit the white lies you’re telling yourself. It’s OK—we’ve all been there!

What’s not OK is staying there. Own up, and get better.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Decker Communications blog. Ben and Kelly Decker are the CEO and president of Decker Communications. They consult on messaging, cultivate executive presence among leadership of Fortune 500 companies and startups alike, and regularly deliver keynotes to large audiences. Their book, “Communicate to Influence: How to Inspire Your Audience to Action,” was released this year.

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