Honesty is the best policy. At least, that’s what they say. On a good day, I believe them. I do my utmost best to be honest and upright in all my dealings, both business and personal. On a bad day, I admit being dishonest is tempting.
We all want to make ourselves look good. We all want to be appealing to the people we’re trying to attract, whether that’s readers or clients or both. We want to put our best feet forward and maybe even add an extra bit of polish. It’s natural. It’s normal. It’s human nature.
Unfortunately, human nature isn’t always a good thing. More often than not, it seems, human nature isn’t very good at all. Consider, for example, the very human desire for vengeance. Wanting to get vengeance is very normal. Actually getting it is the stuff many stories are made of, especially when getting it involves extraordinary sacrifices. But is it a good thing? In one part of the Bible, you’ll read “An eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth.” That’s vengeance. In another, you’ll read, “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.” That’s justice. And, if you prefer good old fashioned wisdom, Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”
I believe in honesty. I believe in conquering human nature with disciplined righteousness. I believe in telling the truth. I believe I would rather work for those who appreciate my honesty than work for those who I couldn’t be honest with.
So, when I came across an ad on Craigslist looking for someone to do work that interested me, I took a chance and told the complete truth.
I told her:
- I was over qualified for the position.
- I would not accept (for the long term) the amount she was offering.
- I was recovering from a health crisis.
- I was willing to commit to a month-long trial at the rate she was offering in order to prove my worth.
It’s too early to say whether I got the job, but I definitely have a shot. She replied back, requesting a sample and an interview.
The lesson here is that honesty filters out those people who are not going to appreciate you and leaves you with those people who might appreciate you. As a marketing tactic, it seems counterintuitive, because the objective of marketing is to expand your reach, not narrow it. However, the objective of marketing is also to qualify interested parties and to filter out those who aren’t interested. Telling the truth helps you do that.
A final thought: If you can’t tell the truth, then maybe you should stop focusing on what you should say and start focusing on what you should do so that you can tell the truth. After all, honesty isn’t just about telling the truth; it’s also about living the truth.