Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

The Biggest Lie of 2010, And What We Can Learn From It

December 20th, 2010 | Bob Rosner

Image: Bob RosnerPolitifact, the fact-checking web site of the St. Petersburg Times, announced the biggest lie of 2010. But it doesn’t stop there, the NYTimes, FactCheck.org and a number of other experts agree with Politifact’s analysis.

The lie? That the government will be taking over health care.

I’ll leave it to Politifact to debate the “why.” I’m more interested in the “how” and what we can learn from this that will help us to survive today’s challenging workplace.

Repetition was probably the one factor that pushed this phrase to the top of the list. In 2010 alone, “government takeover” was mentioned 28 times in the Washington Post, 77 times in Politico and 79 times on CNN. Add to this countless times on a variety of congressional and activist web sites.

Beyond your beliefs about health care, and the politics surrounding, is one simple fact, views can be shaped by a message being said over, and over, and over again.

Which reminds me of a previous blog that I wrote about Google. Remember, Google is not an arbiter of what’s true or not true, it’s fancy algorithms only can tell you what’s popular.

If you’ve ever locked horns with a nemesis at work, you’ll learn this lesson painfully. When someone has a lot of anger and time, they can do a huge amount of mischief at work by simply repeating something over and over again.

Which is why when someone starts spreading a mistruth about you at work, you need to respond to it. Because what could seem outrageous to everyone today, can become a “health care takeover” juggernaut in just a matter of days.

Listen to the grapevine. And take out your pencil to try to erase the parts that aren’t true, while you still can.

I’d hope that most of you don’t take this as a strategy to get ahead, but rather as insight about the dynamics of how negative messages can resonate. And more importantly, how their damage can be limited.

About The Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via [email protected]

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