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  • Temptations, White Lies, Sales and Seeing Eye Dogs
    Copyright 2001, Bill Platt

    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 
       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 
    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 
    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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    This article was originally written: August, 2001

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