We all tell stories in such a way as to make ourselves look good or at the very least understandably wrong.
Of course there’s good spin and bad spin. Each play with reality a bit, but good spin is never a lie. It’s always on the level. It’s designed to highlight the positive and the uplifting. It opens us up to possibilities that were not readily apparent to us.
Bad spin is a lie. It misleads and exaggerates. It’s opportunistic; design to benefit the spinner. It distorts reality and narrows our possibilities. It’s short term thinking. It may benefit us in the moment but it spoils us in the future.
Bad spin harms us in a number of ways:
First of all, it demonstrates a lack of personal responsibility. Rather than facing the facts and dealing with them is displays our penchant for changing the facts to justify our mistakes.
Second, it signals that we are immature in our understanding of success and failure. We should celebrate lessons learned and communicate that mistakes are a part of the growth process. Bad spin communicates that winning is the only thing and is to be valued more than teamwork and support.
Third, it nullifies the feedback we get. The feedback we get is critiquing the spin and not the reality—it becomes delusional. Feedback based on spin confirms what we want to believe but it is worthless because it’s critiquing a lie. Only feedback based on reality is helpful.
Fourth, it distances us from each other. We become cynical of each other. We lose trust. We lose respect for each other. We want straight answers from each other but we are never sure if we are going to get it. It becomes more difficult to be open, transparent, and non-judgmental.
We crave smooth answers in times like these. Uncertainty makes us crave comfortable answers. Fear makes us accepting of reassuring rhetoric. But if it isn’t honest, it only dumbs us down.
We can avoid bad spin if we respect each other, seek the truth, welcome growth, and make ourselves and others accountable for what we say and do.
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