MENOMINEE - "The Spin" could simply be defined as a half-truth or just a plain lie. It is purposely designed to distort the truth or facts by a person to avoid problems, making decisions, personal responsibilities, and damaging other people's reputations. This is learned through practice.
At one time it was used sporadically by people with career-devastating problems, but all that has changed. Today, "The Spin" is practiced and learned in all aspects of life: young/old, affluent/poor, white/blue-collar, parents, and yes, some politicians.
Using "The Spin" starts slowly, through exposure to others modeling the behavior. This process begins with one telling a half-truth or lie and getting away with the deception. It continues to build on itself, day in and day out, until the person that creates "The Spin" embraces it as the truth. "The Spin" can take many forms. Some examples are as follows:
1) The Blame Game - This takes place when the person blames others or circumstances for the problems they are encountering.
2) Minimizing of a situation - A person minimizes a situation by stating to others involved that it is no big deal and that they are making mountains out of molehills.
3) The Deflection - When confronted with a problem by another person, this person may say the following: "You did this; others are doing the same thing" or "Why are you picking on me?"
4) Memory loss/smokescreen - This person will use the intentional convenient ploy of "I forgot" or "I can't remember".
5) Errors of omission - Some people utilize this by leaving out certain selected facts while they are providing information.
If you practice one or all of these behaviors, you should stop. It is through honest, and I say honest, self-reflection and recognition of this problem that you can change. It will take a tremendous amount of energy to do this, because old habits are hard to break.
Once you begin this transformation, you will no longer exhibit the five traits of "The Spin," but rather the following: accepting responsibility for your actions and words, affirming other peoples' feelings and points of view, being up-front and focused on all of the facts, and by all means, telling the truth.
Truth is such a crucial value for all of us, that our Lord made it one of His Ten Commandments: "Thou shall not lie."
Dan Paul is the administrator at Menominee Catholic Central Elementary School. His columns, which explore family relationships, are published monthly in Lifestyles.