Over-the-top statements make you sound less trustworthy
Doesn't resonate with
- People working under time constraints, multi-tasking, or managing with a shorter attention span
- People from diverse language backgrounds and people with different ways of processing language
- People whose first language isn't English
Dramatizing, embellishing, overstating, and hyperbole aim to draw attention, impress, and influence. But audiences know: If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Exaggerations give statements an untrue ring, and they expose an underlying intention - manipulation. And this can negatively affect first impressions. Research shows audiences can read intentions behind over-exaggerations without falling for them.
In a bid to attract talent, companies are tempted to use hyperbolic missives about their achievements. This bragging can deter people from applying. Because they doubt the company’s credibility – or feel they can’t measure up. Another drawback of exaggerations: They challenge people to prove us wrong.
When we want to make a point or communicate an idea that we feel is important, we look for ways to amplify our message. When used judiciously, one well-placed exaggeration can help make our argument more memorable. Hyperbole has its place in making a story or statement entertaining. But if you want to connect and build relationships and trust in a business environment, understatement, verifiable arguments, and specific language are the way to go.
- On the communicative function of exaggeration: How to be a million times clearer (Craig O. Stewart & Roger J. Kreuz)