The Sad Truth of “Post-Truth”

Oxford Dictionaries has selected "post-truth" as 2016's international word of the year. Here's what it means, and what it means in the 2016 business world.

Last week I had a conversation with a long-time friend and business partner, Mary Ann. And she shared with me that the Oxford Dictionaries has selected “post-truth” as 2016’s international word of the year, after the contentious Brexit referendum and an equally divisive US presidential election caused usage of the adjective to skyrocket, according to the Oxford University Press. The dictionary describes “post-truth” as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

This is our 2016 word of the year. This is also our new reality.

We see it everywhere… fake news articles on social media, everyone crouching deeper and deeper into their own news and information bubble, and a seeming never-ending thirst for opinion, news and information that proves the point we already came to. Minds don’t get changed when it comes to politics and issues anymore. (Minds have to be open before they can get changed…) Points get announced, ears remain closed, fingers get extended, figurative microphones get dropped. Facts don’t matter.

To quote my father-in-law Tom, this is “a sad commentary.”

My hope here is that our addiction to a “post-truth” world stops at the political water’s edge, and does not extend into our business lives. Closed minds, poor listening, and unwillingness to respect another opinion has no place on our business world. When we are trying to grow our business, satisfy our customers, create new products, reduce time to market, encourage innovation, etc., etc., etc., then we must be able to listen, respect, and be open to different facts, opinions, and conclusions.

Last week, for the first time in the history of our blog, I wrote specifically and directly about politics. We have referenced political issues from time to time, but we have always stayed far away from specific political writing… until last week. This week, we transition back to a business message, but without forgetting the new context that the 2016 political arena has helped create.

My advice to all is that open minds on political discussions is a good thing. And open minds on business discussions is required.

Have a great day.

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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.