Three Poisonous Words That Kill Your Credibility- Every Time
I hear these three appalling words every day. Surely those saying them must realise how terrible they sound? These words undermine everything about you. Do you say them? If ‘yes,’ then please- stop!!! Here’s the rant.
I’m in the middle of my ‘100 cups of coffee’ as I clarify the shape of my next career move. Actually, I’m well over 100 cups by now. It’s been a privilege. Catching up with many contacts of old. Talking opportunity with friends and colleagues. Making new contacts. And listening to many requests for help on businesses from strangers.
It’s the strangers who usually do it. They’re trying to impress, and make a fast connection. So they resort to these three words to attempt to show authenticity. It fails every time. It backfires. Whatever you do, never say this…never:
“To be honest….”
Followed by those other two close relatives, “To tell you the truth…” or… ‘I won’t lie to you…..”
Eradicate them from your vocabulary. Send them to the never-never land. Erase them from your memory. Refuse to ever let these toxic phrases pass your lips again.
My reaction on hearing these words is simply this: “Oh- so you have been lying to me all the time then?” Or, “Good- so at long last you are going to stop being dishonest. I take it all you have already said was just pure lies and crap.”
Okay. Calm down. I know those of you who use these phrases are growling that you’re only trying to preface a statement you believe is super candid. It’s a mini drum roll to a profound truth, often bravely exhibiting vulnerability. I get that. Fair enough. I do actually forgive those who say it, instantly.
Nevertheless, here’s my point.
Don’t say it. It’s just not helpful.
Just speak candidly. Don’t bother setting up the profound insight. Just say it. Try these for the preface if you really, really need one: “To be absolutely frank…”… “To be brutally blunt…”..or even this twist…” If I were to be absolutely honest with myself….” Still not ideal, but better than the alternatives.
And if you hear those you care about saying ‘to be honest’ or one of its nasty variants, and you have the ability to counsel them to kapow this habit once and for all, then please do.
I won’t lie to you- it would make a grumpy, old, second rate PR guy happy.
And that’s the truth.