I just came back from a trip with a few customers of mine. I have been on several trips with these guys and they have become real friends to me over the years; the kind that I genuinely look forward to seeing. Whenever we are together, it is a good-natured battle royale. From the minute we say hello to the minute we say goodbye, anyone is a possible target of the group, and when the group turns on you, it can get ugly. We are brutally honest with each other and it is really refreshing. Sure, most of that is couched in humor, so it is a constant belly laugh. But at dinner over a glass of wine, that honesty continues and we really speak the truth as it relates to our business. It’s even to the point that when someone new is introduced to this group, they think I am crazy for attacking a valued customer the way I do. But with these people, that is just the way we do it.
I have the same relationship with Pure, the communications firm with which I work. If things aren’t going well, I call Emily Eldridge, my key contact, and we talk it out. There have been times when she tells me I am crazy and have it wrong, and I love that she is honest that way. We never avoid a tough conversation because of those rules.
Are you brutally honest with people in your company? How about your customers? There are many with huge egos that will not allow you to be honest. Sure, they say they want your feedback, but as soon as you give it, they get irritated and hold it against you. Do you know someone like that, or are you that person?!
Do your suppliers tell you what you want to hear, or do they tell you what you need to hear? Has your supplier ever told you that a product they sell is NOT right for you? Are we to believe that EVERY freaking thing our suppliers sell is right for us or are they just typical sales people that are always selling? How about when you are selling? Do you shoot your customer straight, even if it will cost you a sale?
Granted, there are some people who just can’t HANDLE THE TRUTH (gratuitous “A Few Good Men” reference), so be careful. But take a look at your best relationships and I bet you’ll find they have the “honesty thing” in common. If you don’t already, give people permission to be BRUTALLY honest with you and see how much more you learn and grow. If you give the same in return, you will see the trust factor grow rapidly. Nothing is better for a business relationship than good old-fashioned trust. Honestly.
What am I missing? What are you thinking?
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are mine and mine alone. They do not represent the thinking of the company I work for, or anyone else with whom I am affiliated. Except my wife of course, who is good at telling me what not to say.