general zen

Whew, it’s been a long time since I’ve written on this blog. Nearly 4 months!

I feel like I have so many things I’d like to write about, but one thing in particular seems to keep popping up these days: the idea of being honest with people.

Maybe it’s my nature, maybe it’s my upbringing, but I just really feel uncomfortable when I’m not being forthright with someone. If I feel like I’m withholding something or not disclosing something it makes me feel manipulative and uneasy. I feel like I have to just come out with the truth, all of it.

So, basically any time I’m in any situation that presents an opportunity to tell a portion of the truth or the whole truth, I tend to tell the entire truth. It just makes me feel good, i guess. Frankly, I don’t really know.

But what I have noticed about being honest with everyone all the time is that it has all these wonderful, amazing benefits that are actually pretty hard to get with people:

  • People trust. Once people realize that I’m honest about just about everything all the time, they come to realize that if there’s anything going on I’ll say something about it so they learn to trust me.

  • People respect. Because people know I don’t BS, they respect what I say.

  • People want to do business. Yesterday I spoke with a client who asked me if he should get a content management application for this website. From a financial perspective, this would have represented really easy money. But the truth is this client would never really use it, and it’d be easy money for Omedix and wasted money for the client. “Honestly,” I told this client, “Just save your money. If it becomes apparent over time that you would really benefit from this, we can always set it up for you then.”

“Okay,” he said. “Whatever you recommend sounds good to me.”

I have to admit, I felt pretty good about that conversation.

Tomorrow, I’m meeting with a client who wants to build a 12-week website in less than 4 weeks. While theoretically that’s possible, it would require some serious wizardry on our end to make it happen. I know it would be easier to win the business if I just said “Ok, I think we can do 4 weeks,” but I’ll be honest then, too. It won’t guarantee a sale, but at least I’ll have shown that I won’t promise something I can’t deliver.

That last example actually brings up my last point:

Honesty means trading short-term gain today for long-term gain tomorrow.

People don’t usually lie or withhold details just arbitrarily. They do it to gain something. But lying is ALWAYS a short-term strategy. Reputation is something that takes forever to build and minutes to ruin. If someone finds out that you lied, or that you withheld important information to achieve short-term gain, their trust is evaporated and they’ll likely never want to deal with you again.

How do I know that? Because I was on the “being lied to” end a few months ago. A while ago I purchased a tire insurance policy for my car. The idea is simple: if I have to replace a tire the insurance policy covers the full cost. The catch is that I have to go to a specific dealer to avoid being charged. If I go to a different dealership, I have to submit a claim to be reimbursed.

So sure enough one day I got a flat tire. I took my car over to a dealership near my home, and the service advisor I normally deal with told me that he could handle the tire replacement and I’d just have to submit a claim to get reimbursed.

“Is that a big deal?” I asked.

“No, not at all. It takes 1-2 weeks to get your money back. I’ll even help you fill out the claims.”

“Well, why don’t I just go up to the other dealer?”

“Well, we can just take care of it for you.”

I’ve worked with this guy in the past so I trusted him.

Well, it’s now been 8 weeks since I had that tire replaced and I submitted my claim (which was a complete pain, by the way) and I still haven’t received my reimbursement. In retrospect, based on some other things he said, I’m led to believe that he knew how cumbersome this whole process is.

Short-term gain? His commission on the tire replacement.

Long-term loss? I’ll never go to him again, so he loses all future commissions.

To sum up, honesty — and not just honesty, but complete honesty — is an awesome way to go for the long-term. It might be more challenging in the short-term, but the long-term benefits of trust, respect, and people who want to do business with you are awesome.


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