If I’ve told you once I’ve told you a hundred million times… stop exaggerating!
We all do it.
A little exaggeration to enhance a story is acceptable.
Then you get the pro exaggerators. You know the ones…
If you’ve been to Tenerife they’ve been to Elevenerife.
Why do we exaggerate?
Because it’s not like lying. It’s ‘enhancing’ so your moral compass is comfortable.
To gain something. Who hasn’t overstated their ability in a job interview?
To fit in. We like to belong, if being part of the tribe means we must embellish a little, so be it.
And the big one… Ego. Yep, that pesky projector of self-worth and identity.
I teach many organisations how to improve their customer service. A five-star hotel we worked with received a one-star Trip Advisor review (very rare for them). It was titled ‘I nearly died!’.
They, the reviewer, had a problem with a hair dryer. Not a dodgy hairdryer, just one that wouldn’t switch on.
Yet the idea of writing a one-star review titled ‘Hairdryer wouldn’t switch on’ wouldn’t have crossed their mind. Ego?
The good news is the flip side is also true. If you provide brilliant service, you could receive exaggerated positive reviews. ‘Greatest day of my life!’, ‘The best service ever’.
You’d take that embellishment!
I’d love to know your thoughts on exaggeration. What we do it. Why do we do it? What it gives us.
Please join the discussion and leave a comment below.
We exaggerate for comic effect: ‘he’s put on weight’ isn’t funny; “i’m not saying he’s put on weight but he now has his own postcode’ could get a laugh…
I’ve told you a billion times – don’t exagerate
Huge egos need fulfilment or for some to be accepted and fit in. Anyone and everyone has at some point exaggerated a point or tale but it is the size that matters.
A little is better to enhance, dont you think
We tend to exaggerate for us to feel more important. The greater the exaggeration, the greater the response from others will be. My carers for my mother are a good example, whereby they exaggerate an incident to get me to react quickly. Exaggeration gives us a feeling of importance; without that exaggeration we may not get noticed. Everyone wants to be noticed and by exaggerating we may happen to receive that attention that we crave.
We exaggerate for emphasis and to make the other party realise how grave their misdemeanor is … and at our peril!
A few years back I was stuck behind someone on the M32 travelling (to me) far too slowly in the outside lane. As we arrived in Bristol and I finally pulled along side, the chap asked why I was so frustrated – my reponse was that I’d been stuck behind him for the past 20 miles.
The M32 is only 4.5 miles long.
Regardless of rights or wrongs I had, at a stroke, completely undermined my own arguement and really looked rather foolish.
Michael, I’ve been absent a long time but this one peaked my interest. If I use common sense, which that in and of itself may be another discussion, I think we typically exaggerate stories/facts to make our conversations more entertaining and to draw people’s attention.
By exaggerating or enhancing our stories, it can be an expression of a desire or a goal, jealousy, or because we want others to like us. You’ve already said ego…let’s throw vanity into the mix.
It makes us feel more important and confident about something perhaps
I need to learn how to do it better. I under exaggerate…….. if that’s a thing. I seriously struggle with self-promotion.
I don’t think I exaggerate. I used to be a trainer, helping people into work and training. I helped them to enhance their cvs. Obviously then, I could ‘sell’ myself in an interview.
Sometimes though, I feel I am lying because I have done a lot in my life and if a person mentions working in a pub, sometimes I have told them I have managed pubs. Do they think I am trying to go one better? That I’m exaggerating? I’m just telling the truth but sometimes my enthusiasm runs away with me. They’ve triggered off a good memory so I mention it. I need to reign it in sometimes.
I learned an interesting term from another life coach I follow, Tim Brownson, who called certain exaggerations “blags”, which is sort of a combination of lying and bragging. You take a small truth and exaggerate it to make it seem like you are more than what you claim. It is used to persuade someone to do or believe something. I’ve been slightly guilty of this. I’m writing a book (thank you Michael for the “Write that Book Challenge”) and I’ll tell people I’m almost finished even though I’m still writing it and I know it will need major edits. I’m okay with the “brag” because the draft is more than 3/4 written. If I tell them I’m working on it, they look at me dubiously as if I’m one of those people who starts a book and never finishes it. If I say it’s almost done, they say “wow, that’s great!” I’d rather hear that than get the “look.”
Perhaps our competitive nature?
In my family we exaggerate for the sake of it and make the family story that everyone knows funnier. Then we all give our exaggerated version of the same story. We usually end up in hysterical tears.
I think we exaggerate to gain attention and to gain the ‘feel good factor’ . . .a skill that needs to be mastered in marketing.