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Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say

Building trusting relationships is important in business – whether with your prospects, customers, peers, or vendors, etc. All good relationships are based on all parties being honest and open. If you say something is so, then make it happen. Sometimes something unexpected may prevent you from meeting your commitment. Stuff happens, but then just be honest about it. Let people know when you may need more time or whatever it might be in order to resolve the issue.

be honest

Take the initiative to report this to the concerned parties as close to the promised deadline as possible. When you see that you are not on time, or on point, then if possible even before the deadline let them know to expect a delay or whatever the change from the original agreement. Keep them up-to-date on your progress. This is showing respect and it can go a long way especially in a conflict or dispute. It is not so much just about the inconvenience this may have caused, but more about your word and whether you are to be trusted. It is said that sometimes you can actually deepen people’s belief in you by the way you handle errors or problems.

It can damage their trust in you if they wait, expecting you at a specific time, when they not only don’t see you then but also don’t even hear anything from you by way of explanation. As time progresses and they are still left hanging, they already know that you didn’t keep your promise – and no matter what, you have created a little breach in their trust. You may have rushed and not given yourself any wiggle room, and thought this would please them. However it has backfired because you actually needed more time. That is why if there is any doubt at all as to whether you can keep your promise, you should be honest in front. Give them an estimated time – ‘Tuesday or Wednesday’ – Note the word ‘estimate’ – that leaves you some room for contingencies because you did not absolutely commit to Tuesday.

Beyond personal business relationships there is the matter of publishing statements that include promises of income, time, support, etc. Again – don’t say it unless you know you can do it. For example if you are using the strategy where perhaps an opportunity will only be valid for 48-hours and you decide to extend the offer, then state that. ‘The offer was only for 48-hours, but due to the overwhelming response, (or whatever) we have decided to extend this offer.

The point is not to leave your counter displaying ‘5 more minutes left’ for the next 3 months. People will wonder what else you are saying that is not true if you don’t keep your word. Of course they may appreciate having extra time; however there may be people who do notice what are less than honest statements. If you are caught up in these situations too many times’ you will end up being ‘the boy who cried wolf’; he was the one that nobody believed anymore, even when there really was a wolf.

In the extreme this can actually become a legal issue for a business. One example is with ‘bait and switch’. This is where the promise may be that something costs a certain amount of money and that qualifies you to have certain benefits. However, after the sale it is revealed that the level at which you paid does not include those same benefits after all, and that you need to pay more in order to proceed. This is baiting people with a deal and then switching the deal without notice, after the fact.

This same dynamic in reverse however would work well and people will be glad you changed your mind. That is if you over-deliver. For example when the deal was 10 for $10; but what they get is actually 15 for $10. You have made a friend! This can also add good will when you have been late or some other problem arose. It’s a little gift of apology to give them something extra for their trouble.

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