Over selling

A rule in professional life is to manage expectations; don’t over promise, but over-deliver.

Despite the professionalisation of politicians, the desperation of popularity drives them to ignore this rule.

They regularly inflate the likely results and reasons for their planned policies. Then they inflate the actual results, and change the reasons, once the policies play out.

The “inflating expectations” approach helps politicians feel they are winning the immediate popularity contest. But it means they are always losing contests they’d attempted to win this way in the past. All those exaggerated promises are regularly returning for explanation as to why it didn’t turn out.

It is this erratic and inconsistent approach to describing problems and solutions that generates mistrust among voters. 

In fact, this approach is why politics is a slippery slope; why Governments seem to mount up troubles the longer they go. In short; the inflated promises about solutions to inflated problems catch up with them.

For example, the National government raised expectations of its partial asset sale plan by saying it could earn $10 billion, reach 250,000 investors, and include “Mum and Dad” investors. When the first two sales unfolded flatly, the Government tried to deflate its previous claims, claiming instead that it was now expecting $5b.  The Meridian Energy shares attracted only 62,000, and the sale price was right at the bottom of the suggested range.

Politicians would do better to downplay problems, and underplay their responses. In fact, they’d do better not to own too many problems or solutions in the first place. But then we would all start asking about the point of politicians.

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