By Oxford definition, propaganda means:
‘information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.’
When referencing Wikipedia, they give a more detailed version as: ‘Propaganda is information that is not objective and is used primarily to influence an audience and further an agenda, often by presenting facts selectively to encourage a particular synthesis or perception, or using loaded language to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to the information that is presented’.
Both go on to say that the method of ‘propaganda’ is often associated with material prepared by governments or activist groups, companies, religious groups and/or the media. That’s very true, and I would agree… but they missed one important category…
That category is the ‘individual.’
Propaganda is not just used by large or corporate agencies.
In actual fact, I often and mostly see propaganda starting with a single person who puts out a non-objective view of events and information to benefit themselves. That is, to get others to ‘side’ with them and provide misleading information to make someone else look bad in the hope that they, the information providers, look good or the ‘victim’ of an unjust situation.
In broad terms, propaganda is simply a form of verbal ‘manipulation’.
It is unfortunate, and there is no denying, ‘propaganda’ is ‘rife’ in our industry. We often hear whilst in the field, misleading and false information circulating in the community to make an agent or agency look bad in the eyes of a potential client(s). Propaganda occurs amongst fellow team members, when something happens within an office and a ‘he said she said,’ and ‘this is my version’ of events is broadcast to win support. In-office ‘politics’ feature ‘propaganda’ high on the agenda.
And propaganda is not isolated to just those within our industry. Sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants often sell us ‘propaganda’ to influence an agent’s judgement in the fear that should they tell the truth, that truth may somehow adversely affect their final result – or to paint a picture to gain a more favourable outcome. Sales agents have often heard the ‘if we don’t get our price, we won’t be moving’ followed by many justifications as to why. The seller is ‘selling’ you propaganda.
All of this ‘chatter,’ ‘story telling’ and ‘posturing’ is simply ‘propaganda.’ And it’s our job to uncover what is factual and what is not.
What we also need to be aware of, is that some individuals get sucked into their own propaganda. Something I call, ‘self-propaganda.’
Self-propaganda is selling a story to yourself repeatedly and that continual repetition, clouds what is real and what is made up. So much so, you eventually cannot distinguish fact from fiction.
In a less eloquent explanation, you unequivocally believe in your own ‘bulls#!t stories!’
Now, you’re probably thinking, what did Manos hear, what ‘propaganda’ did he navigate in last couple of weeks. Without going into detail, yes, I did get my nose slightly out of joint with some ‘propaganda’ circulating. I was angry and frustrated as I felt the ‘stories’ were very unjust and not truthful. The full facts were not being shared. But I kept my cool; saw the ‘propaganda’ for what it was and chose to ignore it.
And that’s what I would like you to do as well. We all know there are often two sides to every story and on many occasions people either ‘exaggerate’ or omit important facts to accommodate a personal agenda. As I mentioned in my opening paragraphs, propaganda is a false representation of facts to influence an outcome. It’s our job to be aware when it is being used and why the information is being provided and in what format it is being distributed.
One of the best ways to identify and recognise ‘propaganda’, is to clearly identify who is going to benefit the most from the story and information being shared if believed. Dig deep to uncover the real motives behind the stories and those that ‘deliver’ them.
If it’s a vendor and they are resisting meeting the market in their price expectations, ask more questions. The more questions you ask and the better-quality questions asked, the better the chance you will be able to help them. Don’t get sucked into their propaganda – if they have chosen to come to market, they are in it to sell. Help them get there.
If you are speaking with a colleague, in topics from internal politics or justifications for lack of performance – don’t buy into the possible ‘propaganda.’ It’s more than likely a ‘cover’ to hide the real truth. Remembering, lack of performance is often reframed, and blame is shifted to another circumstance or person instead of taking personal responsibility and owning the situation.
So, as we near the end of the year, it’s a great time to review your 2019 results.
Are you on track or off track? Be sure when you answer your own question, you don’t sprinkle any ‘self-propaganda’ to justify your results to date. 2020 is just around the corner and now is the perfect opportunity to truthfully reflect, review and set yourself up for the new year.