Why the difference between misinformation and disinformation in meetings matters
The meaning of misinformation is often merged with that of disinformation, but they are not interchangeable. You cannot put them together as they are very different.
Disinformation is when someone deliberately misleads by sending biased or manipulated facts on purpose. Often the data is crafted and disseminated with the intent to mislead others. In a meeting, it can be called a “curved ball’, a “diversion”, a “smokescreen” or a ‘hidden agenda’. Disinformation is often peddled by toxic people – yes there are lots of them.
Misinformation is when people spread information they believe to be true, with no intent to cause harm or confusion. They may be ‘the know it all’ in a meeting, and jump up to have their say without fact checking first. This is often termed opinion disguised as fact. It’s very common.
So the difference between the two comes down to intent.
To further confuse the issue, is the fact that a piece of disinformation can ultimately become misinformation. It all depends on who’s sharing it and why.
This matters in meetings. All information that is spoken of in a meeting should, of course, be true. This assumption is and should be made in meetings, but not everyone may share the same goals and vision for the company.
Information shared in a meeting, can be misinformation or disinformation. This could be done innocently or it can be done quite deliberately.
If someone has their own personal hidden agenda then this is disinformation designed to steer the meeting to a different outcome. If you are running this meeting, or you are part of the meeting, the best way to deal with this is to call it out by asking the person to provide evidence for their view or claims.
The question to ask could be, “what proof do you have of that?” or “where is your evidence for that?” If the issue is important, this should be minuted so it is followed up.
It is paramount you know of a person’s intent with the information they share at the meeting. If it is deliberate disinformation then there is much more discussion to be had in another blog.