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Embellishing Stories for the Sake of Simplicity

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Topics relating to managing people and relationships

Mike Partee

(Formerly UnrealCreative)
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Probably sweating this too much, but...

In light of recent 'Guru Witch-Hunt' threads on the Forum, it got me thinking about my own presentation to others; namely involving stories told.

I'm fairly guilty of Embellishing Stories - not necessarily for ill intent,
but for the Sake of Simplicity.

As an example:
When people ask how the business started, I often reference my first client.

"A Theology Professor at XYZ Ivy League School."

Well, that's not exactly the full story.
I was actually a subcontractor under someone else,
who had said Theology Professor as a client.

Another Example:
When people ask how the business is going.

"It's Great! I have 4 people working for me now."

Well, that's true. But not exactly the full story.
Those 4 people are all subcontractors that work WAY less than part-time with me.
In both cases, it's a bit of an embellishment to make me look good.

So the question is: Where do you draw the line with stretching the truth?
Again, I don't think I'm embellishing stories out of evil intent - but subconsciously I'll do it because it makes me look good. How do you make your presentations simple enough for others to grasp, without subconsciously embellishing stories and making yourself look bigger than you actually are?
 
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WJS

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When people ask how the business started, I often reference my first client.
"A Theology Professor at XYZ Ivy League School."
Well, that's not exactly the full story.
I was actually a subcontractor under someone else, who had said Theology Professor as a client.

In this case you could always say “It all started while I was subcontracting with A, who had Theology Professor as a client.

Nothing wrong with a humble beginning. Most, if not all businesses started small and they eventually grew. Most people won’t care as long as you are able to deliver what you promised.

Another Example:
When people ask how the business is going.
"It's Great! I have 4 people working for me now."

Now this is definitely stretching the truth. You could always say “Business is picking up. In fact, I’m outsourcing my work to 4 part-time subcontractors now”. That is both true and has a nicer ring to it.

So the question is: Where do you draw the line with stretching the truth?
Again, I don't think I'm embellishing stories out of evil intent - but subconsciously I'll do it because it makes me look good. How do you make your presentations simple enough for others to grasp, without subconsciously embellishing stories and making yourself look bigger than you actually are?

Here’s how I would draw my line. Just imagine what people would think of you if they found out the difference between your story and the actual scenario. If it would result in them having a lower view of you, I’d stop right there.

You can tell the truth without putting yourself down. It all boils down to the choice of words. For example if I’m facing financial difficulties and a busybody asks me about it, I could say:

“Oh I’m so broke! I wish I have more money. I barely have enough to make it to next month”

OR I could say:

“Things could be better, but I’m managing just fine. Thank you for your concern”.

In both cases I’m telling the truth, but the way I present it is totally different. It takes some practice but this particular skill will do you well as you progress in your business.
 

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