The Big Picture – Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics by John David Mann

John David MannHow Important Are Your Words in Your Overall Communication? (Hint: It’s Way More Than 7 Percent)  have a sobering fact for you; are you ready? Here it is: Of the statistics network marketers cite in support of their business, a recent study showed, more than 87 percent are not actually based on solid research! Shocking, isn’t it? Guess what? I just made that up. Did you know… …there have been more millionaires made through network marketing than in any other profession? …that 93 percent of your communication is based on nonverbal cues and tone of voice, with your actual words conveying only seven percent of the message? …that according to a study done by Hartford Insurance, at retirement, 96 percent are either dead, dead broke or just getting by, and only four are financially successful? …that according to a Harvard study, only three percent of people ever write down their goals—and at retirement age, those three percent are worth more than the other 97 percent? Each of these deserves an entire article; let’s do a cut-to-the-chase version.  NULL “More millionaires in network marketing…” Maybe some day, Virginia — but right now that factoid belongs with Santa Clause and the Easter bunny. Back here on planet Earth 2005, it’s just not true. Most millionaires got that way by being frugal, working hard and investing in real estate. “Your words make up only seven percent…” Under the scrutiny of a little common sense, this one folds up like a shell-game huckster’s card table when the fuzz arrives. Think about it for a moment:

If these figures (most often attributed to Tony Robbins) were actually true, then maybe it really wouldn’t matter that much whether or not our words told the truth. But it’s not true, and it does matter.

This widely quoted “research” is a tortured distortion of genuine findings by UCLA social psychologist Albert Mehrabian in his book Silent Messages (1971), who was describing how conflicting or “mixed” messages are interpreted between two people who know each other. Not public speakers in front of a group. The truth is that nonverbal communication counts. But please, don’t tell me words chalk up no more than seven percent of the content of your communication. It’s insulting to words, to Mehrabian, to me, and to you. The Hartford study? Doesn’t exist. The Harvard (Stanford, Yale, etc.) study? Nope, sorry. Again, the truth: goal-setting is important. A lot of people, probably the majority, retire with way too little to live on. But let’s not detract from the truths we highlight be quoting spurious figures and statistics. And if we’re going to quote numbers, let’s do some due diligence ourselves— the kind we’re always telling newcomers to network marketing to do. Let’s find out first if the numbers are real. Actually there was a “landmark Harvard study,” and you can read about it in the book Aging Well, by George Valliant, recently released in paperback. From what I could find, this appears to be the study that all the goal-setting folks are talking about. Alas, of “goals” or “goal-setting,” Valliant evidently has little to say: neither term rates a single entry in the book’s index. However, among the major longevity factors Valliant did observe were these gems: • the role of play and creative activity; • the benefits of forming new friendships and social networks; • and the importance of intellectual curiosity and lifelong learning.

Intellectual curiosity! Which ironically would include our taking the trouble to find out if what we’re saying is true or not!

Back in the early days of Upline magazine, John Fogg wrote an editorial called, “The Lies of MLM.” He took on some of the heartier and more durable fabrications of the day (which included the “most-millionaires” fiction, the “MLM taught at Harvard” fib, and a few other fictions and fables). It was one of the most popular and oft-reprinted articles we ever published. I find that encouraging. It tells me that people want to know the truth and tell the truth. What you say really does duplicate. You have a responsibility to speak the truth — not just with your body language and tone of voice, but with your words, too. Remember: “intellectual curiosity and lifelong learning” have been proven to help you live longer. P.S. Quick, who said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics”? Mark Twain…right? True — but he was quoting Benjamin Disraeli.


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