Honesty is the Best Policy

This is why honesty is the best policy, no matter what! It doesn’t matter whether you’re in business or not, lying or stretching the truth will always come back to bite you. When I first got out of design school, I worked in the design department of a large furniture store. I was surrounded by salespeople who had worked their entire lives for that company. I learned a great deal – and some of those lessons I have never forgotten.

I remember one Saturday after we had had our weekly sales meeting, one of the salesmen was touring prospective customers through the sofa section. He was telling them that we had just had a presentation that morning from the manufacturer of the sofas they were considering. He went on to tell them that they were so well made and the presentation had shown a truck driving over the cushions and they help up exceptionally well. My first reaction upon overhearing this was “goodness, I don’t remember seeing that part of the presentation” until I realized that it had never happened! He had just made that up to make a sale!

I was always raised by the advice that “the truth is enough”. Don’t embellish it or stretch it – it’s not worth it. Honesty is always the right choice. In the words of Warren Buffet, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” So before you respond to a client or vendor ask yourself if it is worth putting your reputation on the line by not stating anything other than the truth? As we live through challenging times in this industry with delays, cancellations, and uncertainty it’s best to be honest and upfront with all parties about expectations. Trying to avoid a difficult discussion now is only putting off the inevitable. And if you have raised false hopes only to let them down later, you will live to regret it.

When thinking about why your ideal clients should hire you, shouldn’t the reasons include your strong ethics and values and the fact that you have an outstanding reputation in the industry? That reputation hopefully includes the fact that your word can always be trusted and you go above and beyond to provide an outstanding experience – including being honest and trustworthy.

Key assets in your business are using products and vendors who are also reliable and trustworthy. Not only will they help you avoid having to make excuses but they will help you build a reputation based on honesty. They will stand behind their work just as you stand behind yours. And it will guarantee a positive relationship with long-term ideal clients.  They know what to expect when they work with you and will return to do more business with you as well as recommend you highly.

If you are ever tempted to stretch the truth, remind yourself how quickly negative word of mouth travels and how just one temptation could ruin a reputation you have spent years building.   Consider a quote by, of all people, Elvis Presley, as an excellent reminder for all of us: “Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do.”

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Drue Lawlor

Pearl Collective Coach Drue Lawlor is a long time Pearl Collective coach. As a NCIDQ certified designer she and Gail co-developed the Strategic Business Transformation Coaching program. The program led the way in teaching designers how to build or redesign their businesses for profit and success. Drue is also a regular contributor to the Pearl Collective Resources library of interior designer business articles. Outside of Pearl Collective she is the co-founder of Boomers with a Plan B. She is driven to help clients create a safer and healthier homes. You’ll find her in Senior Magazine and a contributor to the following books: Design for Aging: Post Occupancy Evaluations and Interior Graphic Standards, second edition.

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