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Article Teaser: All too often in the business world, honesty is not black and white, but various shades of gray. People who consider themselves Christians think little or nothing of exaggerating the features or benefits of a product or service they are selling.

Keep reading below...

Temptations, White Lies, Sales and Seeing Eye Dogs

Copyright (c) 2001-2017

A man went into the local Big and Tall Man's store several times looking for a job. Finally, on his seventh visit, the store's owner told him, "I will tell you what. I have this suit here on the shelf that has been here for years. I cannot find anyone to buy it. I have some errands to run, so if you will watch the store while I am out, you will get your chance. If you can sell this suit while I am gone, you will have yourself a job."

A few hours later, the store's owner returns to find the man grinning from ear to ear, his clothes in shreds.

The owner was horrified, "What in the world happened to you?"

The man responded, "I sold the suit!"

The owner queried further, "Okay, you sold the suit, but what happened to your clothes?!?"

"Well," he said nodding, "The guy loved the suit, but his seeing eye dog was really mad."

------------
How many half-truths or white lies would you have told to get the sale and the job? I hope your answer is "None." But, the truth is, not everyone is that honest.

Did the wannabe sales person tell the blind man that the suit was ugly? Not very likely. But hey, the customer was blind and did not know it was an ugly suit. And his friends probably won't say anything to him about the suit since they know he is blind. Further, the blind man did love his new suit! So, what could be wrong with this?

All too often in the business world, honesty is not black and white, but various shades of gray. People who consider themselves Christians think little or nothing of exaggerating the features or benefits of a product or service they are selling. They believe "white lies" are ok. They reason with themselves that "Everyone else is doing it."

But of course as Christians, we have an extra obligation to be honest in all our dealings with others, regardless of whether they will ever know or not. We are called to live to a higher standard.

Colossians 3:22 says:

"Obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord."


If you find it difficult to avoid exaggerating and telling little "white lies" in the course of your daily living, you will be challenged even further when your family's well-being and lifestyle are on the line. The responsibility of taking care of your family could very well push you to make decisions in your work you would probably never make outside of your job environment.

In our story above, our salesman isn't even trying to justify his actions based on truth and honesty. He did not feel a need to.

He told the truth when he pointed out how well the suit fit the man. This truth would have been something the blind customer could have attested to by the feel of the fit. So you could say our salesman was honest in this regard.

When our salesman told his customer the suit looked good on him, how could he have done so if honesty was in his heart? This was not even a "white lie", but an outright lie. Even the store's owner agreed with the seeing eye dog --- it was an ugly suit!

In the real world of business, a "white lie" could be something as simple as what is considered Standard Operating Practice in the car sales industry. If a buyer tells the salesman he wants this model in "blue", the car salesman is instructed to tell the customer that he can get this car in "blue", and proceed to show the "white" car as a sample. When all is said and done, the car salesman is instructed to sell the customer the "white" car because that is the one in stock. In the car sales industry, it is assumed that the client does not really care whether the car is "blue" or "white". Therefore, it is okay to tell the customer a little "white lie" about whether they can get the customer a "blue" car or not.

Of course, this is only an example. Hundreds of examples exist in every industry, where the little "white lie" is considered okay and just a part of the industry's Standard Operating Procedures. I am certain that if you applied just a few minutes of consideration to this question, you could think of dozens of examples within your own business where the little "white lie" is a perfectly acceptable means of conducting business.

The desire to be looked upon favorably by your customers and your co-workers is strong. Yet, you must always exercise caution in the statements you make, because failure to meet the expectation when you have exaggerated your ability to reach it, hurts your status and your business more in the long run, than complete honesty up front.

This is back to Business 101 --- "Under Promise and Over Deliver." It is imperative to the long-term viability of your business to meet the expectations you sell to your customers. Your clients have a strong need in being able to trust in you and your business.

Whether you are a Christian or not, "white lies" and "exaggerations" systematically erode your most valuable asset --- your customers' and co-workers' faith in you. Can you really afford to pay the long-term price of this sort of behavior? Each time you find yourself in the position to have to make this choice, the final decision will be yours to make. Choose wisely.


"I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man." --- Acts 24:16


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