Getting specific around numbers is an awareness that continues to grow within me.
I still remember my 10th grade math teacher, Miss Stone, who always referred to things that happened “a hundred years ago.” Invariably, it meant something from two decades prior–or before us high-schoolers’ brief lives even existed. Now, hundreds of years later, I find myself using that phrase every ten seconds. Since the rise of the Internet and all it has brought with it, anything 20th Century does feel like eons ago.
It’s got me thinking about how and why we over-estimate numerical values. I rarely say I have 38 emails in my inbox. It’s “I’ve got a thousand emails.” Or, I won’t get specific and say I have to return 6 phone calls. No, it’s “I have to make a ton of calls.”
I was thinking of this today as time becomes more and more precious. I’ve gotten hundreds of new clients since the second or third week of September. Four, to be exact.
What is the correlation–for you–between what you say out loud and the truth?
Is it to make us feel more important? To pump up the numbers to foster our sense of significance? How much more trustworthy is the person who names the actual amount without exaggeration? There’s a ring of truth when it’s spoken, and that’s what I want to hear, no matter how low it goes.
Do you ever inflate your numbers, and if so, for what reason?