Say What He Said, Not What You Thought He Meant To Say

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lincoln_quoteHonesty matters.  More than getting your way matters.  We can convince, cajole or persuade people to agree with us, but sometimes they just don’t.  Or won’t. Or can’t.

So when our words aren’t convincing enough, we’re tempted to bring in the big guns.  Quote the boss. Quote Ayn Rand or Albert Einstein.  Quote your mom or quote the Pope.  There’s nothing wrong with doing this, as long as you’re accurate.  It’s tempting to take what someone in authority or with an established reputation for integrity and knowledge says, and tweak it just a tad to support our viewpoint.  There’s a Greek word for that kind of activity.  LYING.

Listen, if what you said is valuable, truthful or worthy, it’s fairly likely that someone in the past has had a similar thought and agreed with you.  So look and dig for what someone ACTUALLY said.

Don’t misquote.  Don’t twist someone’s words.  Don’t extrapolate, interpret or editorialize and then ascribe your garbled quote as fact.  It’s dishonest, it’s deceptive and it’s just plain dumb.

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