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VOL. 39 | NO. 11 | Friday, March 13, 2015

When in doubt, the best policy is honesty

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I’ve recently been on the receiving end of dishonesty in a business setting.

The person could easily have told the truth or apologized, and it would have been no big deal.

But, they didn’t.

In order to save face, they stepped right up and said something that was clearly and definitely not the truth.

Maybe I’m naïve, but it always surprises me when people aren’t honest, especially about little things or things that are well-documented through email.

I guess if they don’t get called out on their lie, they assume they’ve gotten away with it.

But, as someone who pays attention to these things, I notice the inconsistencies and take note of them – as do many other people.

And, when the person does get caught, brushing off the error as a “miscommunication” just doesn’t repair the damage.

I’ll continue to work with a dishonest person, but I won’t look at them the same way again. I’ll always wonder if they’re being authentic.

In business, your word is everything. Your employer, your co-workers and especially your clients want to know they can trust you.

Remember the lyrics to that old Down Home song, “A man’s good word and a hand shake are all you need”? There’s really something to that.

Your customers will accept a mistake. They’ll accept an apology. They’ll accept the truth. Nobody expects you to be perfect.

But what they won’t accept is dishonesty. It doesn’t matter how smart, how innovative or how amazing you are. If your customers can’t trust you, what use are you to them?

So often, we get caught up in winning the little battles day to day. We want to be right and look good in front of those around us.

But if you lose trust over something small, it could have big implications in the long run.

Your reputation is everything. Guard it. Protect it. People talk, and once your reputation and integrity are damaged, they can be hard, if not impossible, to repair.

When you’re looking for a job, there are a few key places to pay attention to. Be honest about where you live. Don’t use an address in another state where you don’t reside. Provide a correct work history with honest examples of your accomplishments and contributions. If you must provide your GPA or other numerical information, be accurate. If you aren’t sure of the exact numbers, say so.

If you’re caught being dishonest while looking for a job, you most likely won’t be hired. If you make it through the interview process and it’s discovered later that you were dishonest, you can be fired.

A recent example in the news is the Brian Williams scandal. It’s surprising that such a well-known reporter embellished a news story. But wasn’t it also equally shocking that he’s no longer on television? Sometimes what feels like a white lie can come back to bite you, no matter who you are or how far you’ve gone.

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and author of “Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job.”

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