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First rule of communication: always tell the truth

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything”.

So said author Mark Twain.

But the truth can be inconvenient.

It can prove you made mistakes, acted rashly, screwed things up.

And so, people avoid truthful communication.

We learn that six people will face charges over the deaths of 96 football fans at Hillsborough in 1989.

Alleged manipulation of facts

communication skills 96 Hillsborough.

On trial, some will be called liars.

Liars over what they said, wrote and allegedly amended after the tragic events of that FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

The second Hillsborough enquiry laid the blame for the disaster principally with the match commander.

He opened exit gate C and allowed thousands more Liverpool fans to crush into an already over-crowded end of the stadium.

But the truth of the tragedy was delayed for decades as people in power allegedly manipulated the facts to fit their stories.

When ‘mistake’ becomes ‘conspiracy’

communication skills training glasgow gavel and block conspiracy.

Telling the truth features heavily in the presentation skills and media training courses we run at our Glasgow-based studios.

Our clear advice to businesses, government agencies, local authorities is, to tell the truth immediately.

Tell the truth regardless of the short-term consequences.

Things go wrong.

But when people attempt to cover up their mistakes, cock-up becomes a conspiracy.

Then it’s more than competence on the line.

It’s your reputation.

The truth always comes out eventually

communication skills training glasgow man behind sheet.

Scotland famously was home to what the internet called The Scotch Botch.

It involved the mistaken identification of a detective’s fingerprint.

Shirley McKie was charged with perjury, lying in the witness box, over the misidentified print.

It took 14 years,  several BBC documentaries and two public inquiries to establish that Shirley had communicated the truth all along.

She eventually received apologies from the highest serving police officer, law office and the Justice Secretary over the mistake.

And the Scottish Criminal Records Office was dismantled.

The triumph of truthful communication

communication skills training glasgow pink elephant trainers.

I was proud to help her find justice in that period.

We kept telling the truth in the face of lies and misrepresentation.

The families of those who died at Hillsborough deserve to hear the truth in the criminal trials now that they’ve heard the truth in the public inquiry.


Bill McFarlan is the Executive Chairman of Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.

You can view his full profile here



Photo credit: Edmund Nigel GallFoter.commadstreetz via / CC BY-ND


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