“It’s not about the facts. It’s about what the facts can be made to look like.”
~ Eli Gold on The Good Wife
Think back to the last time someone told you a story, and it wasn’t until later you learned that’s not what actually happened.
When a couple breaks up, there are usually two versions of how it went down. Often they’re dramatically different. The same goes for business disputes, family matters, and legal cases.
It’s your word against theirs. Don’t be surprised if someone blurts out, “That’s not what happened!!!”
We’re hardwired to take credit for our achievements (and sometimes the achievements of others). Similarly, we tend to shift the blame when things go south.
How you frame a story influences how others perceive it. It’s about selective truth-telling and steering listeners or readers to reach the conclusions you want.
Think of it as conjuring illusions for other people’s brains. Remember the white and gold vs. blue and black dress photo that went viral in 2015?
It’s all about context — and whoever controls the context, controls the story.
Being quick is always good. But it’s a double-edged sword.
The upside: You want to be first because whoever is out front sets the tone of the story and the terms of what’s being discussed. You’re in the driver’s seat. Your audience will look to you as the arbiter of what’s legitimate and what’s not.
The downside: Whoever is in front runs the risk of getting ahead of the facts and stumbling. If you have to backpedal to correct or “clarify” mistakes, you lose credibility. Without credibility, you lose trust. Without trust, you lose. Don’t turn into The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
The lesson: Make sure your facts are as solid as possible. If they’re uncertain, paint a vivid and convincing picture of what you do know. Then let people’s imaginations run with it.
To learn more about why being quick is always good, check out our earlier post Speed & Accuracy.
“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”
Gillott Communications is a Strategic PR firm. We’re Fixers. Crisis & Reputation Management. Litigation. Media Relations. Crisis Prep. More than half a century of expertise working with clients to resolve issues both in and outside the media’s glare — in their professional and personal lives.
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