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Credibility and Bravado

April 17, 2017

As I read today’s news, I was reminded of a blog post I wrote some time ago about bravado. There I wrote, in a slightly different context, about boasting, proffering outrageous claims, or otherwise making exaggerated shows of strength, courage or defiance; but it is the effect on credibility that reminded me of the post.

Anyway, I was reminded about bravado in mediation as I was reading about today’s Gallup poll, entitled “Majority in US No Longer Thinks Trump Keeps His Promises” .

The poll suggests that President Trump lost 17 percentage points on the question of whether people believe that he keeps his promises. The report indicates that “45% say Trump keeps his promises, down from 62% in February.”

The poll also suggests that President lost six percentage points on the question of whether he is honest and trustworthy, down from 42% in February in 36%.

So what does this have to do with my post about bravado?

I think the answer goes to whether boasting or making wild unsupported or unsupportable claims makes them believable, whether they help to support a disputant’s position, or whether they actually undermine credibility.

I think it is the latter. Moreover, the Gallup poll suggests to me that actually it may make matters even worse, especially where one side is already at odds with the other and doesn’t believe the other side in the first place:

Whether young or old, Democrat or Republican, male or female, Americans are less likely now than they were two months ago to think Trump keeps his promises. But the declines have been greater among subgroups that tend to be less supportive of Trump, including Democrats, liberals, women and young adults. Among those who disapprove of Trump, 35% said in February that he keeps his promises; only 11% say so now.

Thus, I believe that bravado in mediation — including boasting, proffering outrageous claims, or otherwise making exaggerated shows of strength, courage or defiance —  undermines credibility, especially in the eyes of the other side, and particularly when those statements are perceived or turn out not to be true, or the positions are not sustainable or even realistic — as with some of the statements and positions of Mr. Trump as described in the reporting of the poll:

In the two months since [the February poll], however, Trump appeared to walk away from repealing the Affordable Care Act after Republicans failed to agree on the healthcare replacement bill that Trump stood behind. Political friends and foes alike have complained that Trump is not carrying out the promises he made on the campaign trail. Supporters have expressed unhappiness that more has not been done on taxes and immigration, in addition to healthcare. Opponents say he has not protected middle- and working-class Americans.

What do you think?

***
David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

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