Tell Me A Story

You know the old saying, “tell me a story and I’ll tell you no lies.” Well, you know how that goes.

For my first major foray back into my community life, I chaired a meeting last night with a civic group. There are three factions within the group, each of whom have various reasons for being so passionate about their position. I like passion: it demonstrates that the person is seriously concerned and it is not a petty matter to them.

However, I also get highly irritated when people lie, and pretend they aren’t. They give you this look like, “believe me, I am telling the truth,” but all other mannerisms give them away — the darting eyes, fidgety hand movements, and stammering speech.

You’d figure if any profession can tell a good story and make it sound believable, it would be a lawyer. But last night, I caught a lawyer in a series — not just one but several — outright fibs. He claimed certain details as fact, when there was no proof. He cited figures that sounded implausible, and another person speaking after him proved that the lawyer could write the next edition of How To Lie With Statistics. What blew it was that he cited research from someone who I know personally. I know my colleague’s work. My colleague wouldn’t have said that. To prove it, I called my colleague right then-and-there and put him on speaker phone. The lawyer turned white as a sheet.

I wasn’t born yesterday. I can just tell when someone is trying to twist the truth to make something come out in their favor. Their problem was that they do not realize that I’ve been around the block once or twice, and know a few people. The look on that guy’s face when I called the author of the paper from which he was quoting — and the fact that I had the author’s phone number in my cell phone’s directory — was exceptionally amusing.

Look, if you are going to make a statement in public, certainly back it up with facts and figures. But also make sure that those facts are supported and can be verified independently. Otherwise, it will catch up with you and could work against you.

Lyin’ eyes and darting gestures will also always give you away.

Life is short: speak honestly (and stop flailing your hands!)

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About BHD

I am an average middle-aged biker who lives in the greater suburban sprawl of the Maryland suburbs north and west of Washington, DC, USA.