The other day I was talking to a potential new client who was really keen to work with us. But then they sent me an email outlining why our project would have to wait.
I was miffed right?
Actually nothing could be further from the truth. In fact I was rather honoured.
She bared her soul in that email, telling me what had really gone on for her in the last few months and that now she desperately needed a holiday. In a nutshell, her business and our project would have to wait.
I called her as soon as I read the email to let her know not only was it fine and we could wait to do her project, but that I was really touched that she’d shared so openly about what was going on for her.
She said she felt unsure of telling anyone that she wasn’t quite on her business game – that it wasn’t really the kind of thing that you should ‘admit’ to. And that’s where she was wrong.
Humans can smell a lie a mile off. We all like to think we’re skilled at fudging things but really we’re not. We’ve all had that feeling that something’s just not right when someone’s said something and it puts us off for the next time we deal with them.
If my client had made something up, it would have come off as insincere and I would have taken it as a ‘brush off’ when nothing could have been further from her mind. And that would potentially have affected how we’d relate to each other in the future. Instead, she had enough respect for me, and more importantly herself to tell it like it really was.
And that’s something you just don’t see a lot of in business.
Better still, it brought us closer in a way we might never have been otherwise. We found commonality in her moment of truth. What she saw as a her ‘failing’, I assured her was kind of ‘normal’ and something we all shared.
For the record, I don’t think there is a business owner out there, that hasn’t experienced a day, week or month of their business life where they’ve felt off their game, or like crying with tiredness, overwork, client issues, financial issues, etc – me included. Okay maybe not actual tears, especially for the blokes, just the despair that comes with exhaustion and overwhelm that comes with handling a million things at once.
But, just like every other business owner on the planet, I’m just getting on with it, making do with what I’ve got to work with. Am I ever off my game. Some days, yes.
And guess what? Everyone has those days, it’s just that somewhere along the way, we as business owners seem to have forgotten that. As business owners, somewhere along the way, we learned to turn on the ‘bluster and bravado’ show – everything’s fine, going well, business is booming, couldn’t be better, etc. And in so doing, we’ve duped ourselves into thinking that we’re the only one that has bad days.
I for one, think it’s time we were all a little more honest with how things really are. Then maybe we’ll free ourselves up from the need to keep up appearances.
So the next time you’re about to ‘fudge’ your way into, out of or around something, stop and ask if you could build a better relationship by telling the unvarnished truth.