Little white lies. Everyone tells them to smooth things over and prevent scenes they would rather avoid. But I often see businesses and relationships fail because of issues where if they had told the truth it might have been painful – but not lethal to business relationships.
Not long ago the owner of a cutting horse ranch fired his ranch manager and moved all his horses to another of his farms. Why? Because he lied and claimed he didn’t know how a horse got hurt instead of telling the owner the truth. When you have horses, accidents happen. Covering up the cause will lose you an owner – or a job.
The same thing happens if you’re a consultant, or a freelancer, or managing someone’s blog. Even though lying is often more expeditious and less painful in the short run, it will ruin you in the long term because you will lose trust. And trust is VERY hard to recover.
Stephen M.R. Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People has a newer book called The Speed of Trust. This short video is an excerpt of his ideas on trust and an example of how trust doubled one street vendor’s business:
For consultants, I strongly recommend under-promising and over-delivering to build more trust into your relationships. Most often, your clients will not understand:
- how complex what you are doing is
- that it takes much longer to deliver quality
- have unrealistic expectations
Scope creep will eat your lunch. Dishonest clients will pretend to not understand, hoping you will give them more work than you billed. Just as you need to be trustworthy, I believe in firing bad clients immediately to make room for good ones.
Read my post Are You REALLY Serious About Growing Your Business Or One of the Many Who THINK They Are? for more on scope creep and consulting.
When we trust someone, we have less stress in our lives. Trust is essential to our success in both business and personal relationships. And the key is clear and consistent communication.
Face your challenges head on. If there is a problem, say so. If you are too busy trying to handle issues, send short status messages so your clients know you are still working on resolutions.
The worst thing you can do – and what many do – is to stop communicating. Do this and people will assume the worst. What they tell themselves is going on will be worse than the truth. It is a cowardly way out that adults need to outgrow.
We have to overcome conditioning we may have been subjected to by bad managers or abusive parents. Many actually teach their children and employees to lie by punishing them for telling the truth. That is their mistake. Don’t make it yours by failing to grow into someone courageous enough to do the right thing.
Learning to communicate clearly and building trust will improve your life. A good place to start it this talk by Stephen Covey on Leading at the Speed of Trust:
As Covey says, when trust is low, speed goes down and cost goes up. When trust is high, speed increases and cost declines.
What can you do to improve the trust in your relationships? Eliminate those you can’t trust and you will shorten the amount of time it takes to get successful.