In his book, The Speed of Trust, author Stephen M.R. Covey quotes Mahatma Gandhi as saying, “The moment there is suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted.”
While reading that quote during a recent presentation, I thought about a person who, about a year ago, sent me an email asking if they could discuss with me a project they had in mind. Without going into detail, they explained that it could result in millions of dollars being raised for a very worthy cause. Naturally, I agreed, and invited him to call me.
When we spoke, it turned out to simply be a business venture that – if it succeeded – could result in a very lucrative return for both of us. While I’m always happy about that possibility, I asked him why he told me what he did in setting the appointment with me. He very “honestly” answered that had he told me the truth, he didn’t think I’d have agreed to speak with him.
Assuming you agree with the Gandhi quote near the top of this post – and I find that most people absolutely agree with it – do you think there is any possibility that – from that point on – every single thing he could ever say to me would not be tainted?
It’s said that trust is difficult to build and easy to destroy. Well, in my opinion, if you go about building it correctly, it need not be that difficult to build. I agree, however, that it’s easy to destroy. And, once it is destroyed, it is then very difficult to rebuild.
But, to “lead with a lie” almost guarantees one will never have the opportunity to build trust in the first place. Why, because from that point on, everything they do is…tainted.
Feel free to share with us similar experiences you’ve had from which we all can learn.
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I think it’s funny Bob that we read the same books at the same time…first The Enlightened Millionaire and I just finished ‘re-reading’ the Speed of Trust!
I’d also like to point out how we can even LIE to ourselves, and we are the most important people in our lives.
I’ll use one of my most frequent “lies” to ourselves. Many women I talk & coach in their business have this built in lie “But I’m just not a salesperson!!”….when the truth is they just have a few obstacles to over come to get to their Comfort level. It’s unfortunate that we can constantly tell ourselves ‘lies’ because I truly believe until we are Honest with ourselves…and re-build our own trust…we will truly never move FORWARD in any walk of our lives….
JODY in Beautiful BC :))
This is so true! Unfortunately people don’t realize that “misrepresentation” (even if it’s not an outright “lie”) has the same effect, as does any lack of integrity.
I was on a radio show last night and the host was discussing someone who represented themselves as a ___”Professional”. She attempted to contact them for their services 3 times. Each time she called they were busy and said that they would call her back. They never did. She felt that they had not only lied to her, but misrepresented themselves in the first place (because they were not “professional”). The point is, not only will SHE never do business with them, but she now feels “compelled to warn others”!
Be authentic (read:verb, not buzzword or tactic)
Funny how we can think we’re so ‘smart’ and overlook such obvious and simple things:)
Sadly we have all been led into conversations like the one you described. It’s unfortunate that the person felt so unimportant that they chose to use an altruistic angle to get your attention. By admitting to you their true intentions they lost all trust. I guess the one saving grace is that they disclosed this early in the conversation — albeit with your prodding. The irony is that you might have been willing to help grow the idea and help all parties involved, including the worthy cause, to make peoples lives better. Instead everyone loses — especially the person that violated your trust.
Authenticity Matters! Being authentic means being truthful with yourself first. That authenticity will be evident in your personal and professional dealings.
Leading with a lie is simply not a good strategy, as you very clearly state in this post. Lying in general is not a good strategy for trust building for the same reasons and because it takes up too many resources to sustain (if that were your goal). Telling the truth is simpler and more efficient in the end. That said, you raise a serious issue with the Gandi quote. I agree with it in principle, but still stand in awe of people who do much good for all the wrong reasons. The people that benefit from the good still have better chances in life than without it. We would prefer to have honest, trustworthy humanitarians around, but nowadays – quite frankly – the world needs all the help it can get. Should needy people shun wrong-intended help? I don’t have an answer. It seems to me that the good deal is done, it is the return that gets stuck on the way to the original sender. Such a pity, when true love flows both ways!
Hi All, thank you for your great comments and feedback. Jeff and Monica, just to allay your concerns; there was not an actual charitable cause the person was looking to help – he merely mentioned it as a way of getting my attention. (I went back and re-read the post and, indeed, the wording I used was confusing so I just edited it slightly to clarify.) And, Monica, regarding what you said about there being people who do much good for all the wrong reasons…I agree. And, I agree that it’s better they are at least adding value to the world even without benevelont intent rather than not. When you say that you “agree with the Gandhi quote in principle *but*still stand in awe of people who do much good for all the wrong reasons”, I’m not sure where the word “but” fits in. To me, it’s sort of two different things; one doesn’t cancel out the other. In fact, many of those who do “good things for the wrong reasons” have a way of inspiring trust in others. One of those mysteries of life, I guess. 🙂 And, where you ask if “nedy people should shun wrong-intended help”…again, while it’s a great discussion question, I’m not sure what it has to do with this posting. I appreciate your feedback and please feel free to write back and let me know.
Great article. I was reading a quote this weekend that said you have to give to get. As someone just returning to work in and industry I left a year ago, I’m putting this quote and your article at the front on my thinking. It is very important to be honest with everyone. Integrity is key. Thanks, for sharing this important message.
Bob, your wisdom and insight are worth millions. Thank you for sharing with us.
Thank you, Cheri. The only think I would caution you about – if I may – is that when you “give to get” you are then, by the very nature of the saying, “attached” to having to “get” from that person. And, when it doesn’t happen (because people will read that that is why you’re giving) there will be dissapointment and frustration. As Sam tells Joe in the book, “The Go-Giver” (paraphrased), “you don’t give to get; you give to give. You give because you love adding value to people’s lives. When you do this, though, great things begin to happen.”
The reason this is true is because when you “give to get” you aren’t really giving…you’re trading. And you’ll come across as such; as a person with an agenda. When you give to give, you are planting great seeds of goodwill and people begin to “know, like and trust” you. The difference is significant. And, as you begin to elicit these feelings in you from others, now you are in a position where you are constantly adding value to people’s lives and they are doing the same with you.
And, yes, honesty is a key. It’s where Law Number Four, “The Law of Authenticity” comes in. The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. So go into these relationships with a genuine desire to add value. Be yourself. You’ll do great, my friend!
Bob, I so agree that trust is easy to break, especially when just starting a relationship as that guy was with you. I find that often trust, and therefore a relationship, never has a chance to develop because the person fails to keep a small commitment. I would be very rich if I got a nickle every time someone said “I’ll call you right back,” and then never did.
Oh, I so agree with this. The quote from Gandhi and your words regarding the ‘fellow’ who led his whole relationship with you on a lie. People who are truly helping others are not actually out there advertising it as we tend to be in the background, going day by day, helping where we can. To lie about something so important as a ‘worthy cause’ certainly leaves this person’s character in question.
You must always begin with the honest truth or what value do you have as a business or human?
Then, there was that point where he had no choice but to admit to you what he’d done. Was there even a remorsefulness about him for his actions. Your above acticle does not seem to indicate such feelings.
One thing is that in life you must always believe that people will have integrity. It is sad that there are folks like this in the world, but my experience is that for each one of these, there are 5 more folks who are honest, trustworthy and helpful. Thanks, Anita
I couldn’t agree more that
“to “lead with a lie” almost guarantees one will never have the opportunity to build trust in the first place. Why, because from that point on, everything they do is…tainted.”
When people tell me the truth even though it may harm their cause I am much more likely to respond sympathetically and even overlook great personal injury simply because it delights my heart they had the courage to tell the truth.
Here’s another angle: I give to give, but a man whom was very important to me and whom I thought could do no wrong, misinterpretted my “pure love and giving” as manipulation. So unknown to me for two years, everytime I sent him a new client or shared his ministry with people, his suspicion was raised and he spoke badly about me. It baffled and hurt me, almost beyond repair. I’ve since learned that people see things as they are, and to some people, love and giving is not pure. I’m okay now, but it was unfortunate that I had to learn about yucky motives from a man who claims perfection.
… as if there were something wrong with discussing a potential lucrative deals!!!
I’ve had three almost carbon-copy experiences over the past couple of years. One was just a disguise to sell me advertising; the other two were lucrative business opportunities for other party… they just seemed to have forgot about me in the transaction!
At the very least, had they just acknowledged their true motives upfront, I would still entertain ideas and opportunities from them today. As is, I can’t afford to spend time with those I can’t trust.
Honesty is always the “only path”… even if you get a “No” today, there’s always tomorrow!