February 7th, 2012
Are You Smart Enough to Lie?
“I’m not smart enough to lie,”Dad would often say. “I have a hard enough time remembering the truth. There is no way I could keep track of both the truth and lies.”
Sometimes, it may be tempting to tell a client what they want to hear to get the sale. First, there might be the lie to get the sale. Maybe it starts with telling an installation schedule fib. Maybe, next, it’s an exaggeration of product performance. After that, maybe the truth gets stretched about what a lifetime warranty really means. Maybe it gets worse, a surprise–and bogus–surcharge is added to a final bill to make up for a low initial sale price. From there it can only get worse and worse.
After we tell one little fib, it is easier to tell the next and then get into a habit of lying. Both the truth and the lie have to remembered and covered up later. Finally, facts triumph over falsehood and the lie is exposed. The lie can ruin the reputation of a person and the business with which they are involved.
When a client would ask Dad for something he couldn’t deliver his reply was simple. Dad would give a definitive, “I can’t do that.”
“I am not going to lie. I have to be able to sleep at night and I have to get up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror,” Dad would say.
It’s surprising how many times Dad’s honesty about not being able to do something did get him the job. His honesty earned him the trust and respect of clients and that has value, too. After all, sometimes the client was testing him to do something impossible.
If we have to be a fake and lie to make a sale, we have surely lost our way and it is time to take a long, hard look in the mirror.
How could I sleep at night, knowing I was a thief, lying to steal, instead of an honest professional practicing good salesmanship? If I looked in the mirror and saw a dishonest actor, wouldn’t other people see the same? Who would trust a deceitful fake?
Honesty really is the best policy, even if you are smart enough to lie and keep all of your facts straight. As the lies grow and become intertwined with half-truths they will become as plain as the nose on your face. And, like Pinocchio, you will suffer grave consequences. It is not worth it and I urge every professional to stick to the truth. You may lose an occasional sale because you don’t fib, but there are serious costs for lying, too.
Check back here for my next blog “Learn From Your Elders.” Until then, don’t forget to be yourself and believe what you’re saying.