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Is Hyperbole Okay?

A consultant asked me the following question:

I’ve heard you say that you find the best consultants in the world for your corporate clients. Do you actually say that to clients? Is it over the top for me to say, “I am the best consultant on the planet at doing XYZ?”

Below is how I answered the consultant:

Sometimes a bold statement is exactly what it means and sometimes it is metaphor. It depends on the context.  When I tell prospects, “My team will include the best in the world at XYZ,” we both know the phrase is metaphorical. What I’m saying is shorthand for, “I’ll find you an exceptional consultant, with proven experience achieving the outcome you want in similar situations. I will have vetted the consultant’s approach and processes, checked their references, and conducted the due diligence to be confident we’ll get where you want to go.” After all, who determines which consultant is “the best in the world” and what scale do they use?

On the other hand, when I claim, “My program is the absolute best available,” that’s not metaphor. I believe my statement to be true. But here’s an important point: my claim is an honest response to a prospect asking who s/he should turn to for help.

The bottom line is: If you don’t believe in your claim, don’t make it! As long as you are making a reasonably justifiable claim with sincerity, it will come across that you are confident and sincere, not huckstering.What advice would you give this consultant?

At what point is tooting your own horn valuable, expected self-promotion, and at what point is it harmful self-aggrandizing? How grandly do you describe yourself when you talk with prospects? 


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You can see more discussion of this question by joining the Solo Consultant’s Network on LinkedIn.

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