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Numbers To Rely On

Vague, hard-to-disprove statements like “we care about our clients”, should be avoided because they undermine trust building.

By hard to disprove, I don’t mean 2+2=4, or some proven scientific theory.

Mathematics can be tested with calculations, and scientific theories are tested against all the time, and sometimes disproven. But no one can ever reliably calculate or test whether you care about your clients, there is no realistic way of proving it false.

And people

At first glance, it might look like that would boost trust building, but the problem is in the low bar for claiming such a thing. I’ve written before about the fascinating handicap principle: the more obviously costly it is to make a signal the more reliable that signal appears.

The flip side is that if you formulate a statement that is easy to make and poses virtually no risk of ever being disproven, you will be perceived as less trustworthy.

This is why I use numbers in statements about my work. “I worked on about 200 cases” rather than “I worked on many cases like this”. It may sound like the same statement. However – if I use numbers and lie, I run the risk of using numbers that cannot be simultaneously true. It’s subtle, and not usually clear in the client’s conscious mind, but it does make a big difference.

Choosing words in a way that provides avenues of disproving what you say is a lie sounds more truthful.

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