How Good Is Your Word?

“Say what you mean and mean what you say” seems to have lost its meaning for at least some people these days. Whatever proceeds forth out of your mouth is no longer valued as what will be done, what has been agreed upon. Saying “You have my word on that” no longer holds water for many people. This manifests itself in the following ways:

1.     Lack of truthfulness.

Patrick Lencioni might call it “Absence of Trust.” To me, one of the biggest reasons why there is lack of trust is that there is lack of truthfulness in the first place. Truthfulness is more than “earning future trust by accurately reporting past facts”, although that is a very good operational definition by Character First! It is also about being transparent about intentions and being up front, laying your cards on the table so that there are no surprises for your clients, suppliers, staff, etc, down the road. This is easier to accomplish if you take the viewpoint that business intercourse is meant to increase value for everyone involved all round, not for getting the most out of the least. It helps if you do not operate on the premise that business is war. Of course, in a war, my motives are well known to you – I’m going to hunt you down, dismantle your material means  of waging war, and kill you in the process if that is necessary. In that regard, ruses of war, feints, tactical and strategic level deception are all fair game. I hope you don’t see business as war.

2.     Increased protectionism.

If there is a lack of truthfulness resulting in a lack of trust, then even in times of peace, “a gentleman keeps his sword by his side at all times.” I am not suggesting that you enter into business negotiations with your armour and sword, or at least a silk shirt (which the Mongols used to wear so that arrows could be slowly pulled out without tearing more flesh) and a couple of throwing knives, but you get the point. Wouldn’t it be good if we could negotiate with others knowing full well that everyone at the table has as his or her intention the raising of value all round? That is why cultivating great business relationships is so vital. The better the quality of the relationships, the less we would need to resort to volumes of legalese. The need for insurance would be lowered, and we would be able to devote more resources to exploring business ventures that produce the highest value for all stakeholders. Even if we were to extract high-value raw materials from a certain country, we would ensure that the producers receive just remuneration for their contribution to the venture.

What are your thoughts? Would I be able to take them at face value?

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