Confidence Often Trumps Honesty

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Water Lily

If you’re going to lie, might as well do it with style.

At least that’s what I study by Todd Rogers and Michael Norton shows. They have shown that often people will trust a speaker who ruefully dodges a question more than one who stumbles through an honest answer.

This is not news for politicians and other professionals who base their power on rhetoric. People love artful turns of phrase, even when those turns of phrase don’t actually amount to conveying information.

The takeaway here (marketers pay attention) is that if you are going to gild the lily make sure that you bring a lot of gold spray paint. People will forgive you almost anything except boring them to death.

The finding: People who dodge questions artfully are liked and trusted more than people who respond to questions truthfully but with less polish.

The study: Todd Rogers and Michael Norton showed subjects different videos of a political debate. In the first, one of the candidates answered the question asked. In the second, he dodged it by answering a similar question. In the third, he dodged it by answering a completely different one. When the candidate answered a similar question, subjects failed to notice the switch. They also liked him better if he answered a similar question well than if he answered the actual one less eloquently.

Read People Often Trust Eloquence More Than Honesty (Via Simoleon Sense) (Images)

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  • You are right whatever you do, just be confident in that otherwise even your right work will not be appreciated as much as it should be....
    Be positive and confident always...

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  • having that confidence in stage is good,unlike having none.

  • when people see that you are confident,they will likely see that you are sincere in what you have said rather than saying it honestly.

  • i agree with this,sometimes confidence is just what we need to succeed.. thanks for sharing this.

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    Confidence Often Trumps Honesty

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  • Yes, confidence brings success.

  • I totally agree with this article.

  • Politicians have always been good of side-stepping the initial question & by the time they are done talking, the original question is forgotten. There is this joke about politicians: how can you tell when they are lying? When they open their mouth. People who testify in court professionally (police, psychologist, etc.) also can try to make a person forget the original question by making an answer long, thou judges are pretty keen on catching this and put a stop to it. Maybe that's what we need when a politician speaks-- a judge there to make sure he doesn't beat around the bush but actually give an answer to the question. People who aren't used to lying, you can tell they are lying if you look for the signs, ex. they can't look you in the eye when talking to you. But if a person is a professional liar, it's harder to pick up. I'm a very strong believer in: what's right is right, and what's wrong is wrong. End of discussion. I have had many times left my confidence at the door if I realize I'm wrong. I just admit it and move on. There are some politicians out there that are this way, but I can't actual think of any at this moment.

  • Maggyyoung

    Hey now I've suddenly realised why many prominent politicians make a practice of giving a deliberate pause & taking breath before starting to answer a difficult question - I thought it was to take time for thought - but no it's maybe to give the audience time to forget exactly what the question was before they start to answer a slightly different one.
    If there were a politicians training handbook it's prbably in it.

  • sbspalding

    That's an amazing point Maggy. I am certain there -is- a politician training
    handbook, you just need to pay a beltway consultant a few hundred grand to
    print you off a copy. Heh.

  • Maggyyoung

    Like answer everything but the question. Politicians always knew this, chances are most people aren't listening that closely & so if you sound like you're answering a question confidently, you'll score. Make it a long answer & most will probably have forgotten most of the question was anyway. A good one for marketeers to remember.

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