Andrea’s AD*: Liar, Liar Pants on Fire. Why We Exaggerate and Four Steps to Stop
I know y'all are waiting for LinkedIn Part Two. And it's coming. But this is what wanted to be written first.
As a child, I heard adults talk about me. They seemed very fond of exaggerating. Four goals instead of three. All fifty state capitals instead of 44. They were proud of me, I suppose, and got carried away.
But I slowly began to model this behavior. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the message was sub-consciously clear: Whatever I had to say might not be enough, so best to bump it up a few notches.
I was exaggerating, I told myself, not lying. And it crept into many areas of my life. How long it took me to get to work. How many glasses of wine my boss had. How many likes I received for my LinkedIn video. Little stuff on my resume. I even noticed that once I had exaggerated enough times, I began to believe it.
And then one day, long ago, I realized that I was leaking hot air. As hot as a hair dryer. It didn't feel good. But the habit was deep. And finding support wasn’t easy. A similarly-wired friend once said: "Do you want the truth or do you want a good story?" It turns out a lot of people want a good story.
The Cold Hard Truth
And while a good story can be hilarious, consistent exaggeration ruins your credibility and makes it hard to keep track of your mini-lies, which means an interview crisis—or a personal drama—could be just around the corner. Most of all, it's just icky. Because you're lying.
Now hear this: You’re enough! Personally. Professionally. In the park. At your desk. In the swimming pool. On the dance floor. In front of your kids. In front of the mirror. In front of your boss.
You may be deflecting this compliment. And more therapy is probably needed to reverse this belief in your head. But you really are enough.
And if you think you might be an exaggerator, you can quit. It's just like cigarettes or coffee or kale. You just have to get curious, start noticing and become self-aware. Easy-peasy.
1) Look Around. Check out your resume, your profile, your bio, your elevator speech. Is it the absolute truth? If not, why not?
2) Listen. Become more aware every time you speak. Is it the truth? The actual truth? If not, why not?
3) Experiment. Try being incredibly honest in your next small talk encounter. You’ll likely have less to say. And that’s okay.
4) Reflect. Write down your experiences somewhere. Tweet. Blog. Whatev. (No, I’m not a therapist, but my husband is.)
5) Work on It. Now just chip away at change. And remember that authenticity trumps attention. Any day.
*AD stands for Afternoon Delight