The 5 White Lies about Communication


All too often, business communication sucks. Why? We’re not willing to look ourselves in the mirror when we’re not cutting it.

We tell ourselves little white lies to make us feel like, “Hey, it’s not so bad.” But if you really want to be a better communicator, then it’s time to get real.

Here are the 5 white lies about communication that we hear time and again:

White Lie #1: If I say the words, people will get it. Does this sound familiar?

You prepare a carefully scripted, bulleted presentation. You think, “If I make sure to get through this these points, they’ll get it.”

We’ve all fallen into this trap – and guess what – it’s no good. It’s boring. When you cling to the script, the opportunity for meaningful connection is lost. Ditch the script!

White Lie #2: When I’m “on,” I’m great. The best communicators don’t turn “off” and “on.” They’re always “on” because they’re always themselves. When you’re trying to be “on,” this often comes off as overly polished, formal, and, we hate to say it, but fake. Listeners want to hear and see the real you.

White Lie #3: I don’t need to prep. I can wing it. Sometimes it feels like there’s no time to prep when you’ve got back-to-back meetings from 9am – 3pm. But even the smallest amount of preparation makes a big difference. You should always be able to answer the question of “So what?” before speaking. Brownie points if you can name the action you want your listener to take and the benefit to them.

White Lie #4: People tell me I’m pretty good at speaking. Honest feedback is hard to come by. No one likes saying, “That was pretty awful.” Feedback is sugarcoated. Your job is to become aware of how you actually come across to others. That’s why a cornerstone of our Communicate to Influence training is video feedback.

White Lie #5: It’s not the way we do things here. Just because you’ve always done things one way, doesn’t mean you have to keep at it. Many of our clients have seen senior executives read a script or PowerPoint – and then fallen prey to doing this themselves! Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

Admit the white lies you’re telling yourself. It’s okay – we’ve all been there!

What’s not okay is staying there. Own up to where you need to get better.


3 thoughts on “The 5 White Lies about Communication
  1. Thank you for reminding us of the truth about ourselves.
    The White Lies you identify force us to face our unexamined narcissism, especially White Lies 1, 2 and 3. These three each grow from our delusional premise “It’s all about me!”
    We put our trust in “my words, my charm and my skills.”
    When we do we fail to serve our audience. Preoccupied with ourselves, we fail to consider the impact of who we are, what we say and what we do on them.
    The darkest lie we tell ourselves is “It’s all about me.”
    The brightest truth is “It’s all about the audience!”

  2. Thanks for sharing this list. Unfortunately I have heard white lie #1 numerous times, and at times fallen into that habit. It’s interesting compare my speaking when clinging to specific text against when I’m talking freely about a subject I’m passionate about. The difference is blatantly noticeable. I wish I would have seen your warning years ago. Thanks for the reminders.

  3. Great article! It’s a real eye-opener but old habits die hard so it will be difficult to do things different. Also, do you suggest getting rid of power point presentations altogether.?

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