WHEN IT COMES to business and professional services, people generally want facts, not surprises.
So ask yourself, are you telling the whole story?
Are you telling what happened, the way it happened? Or are you telling only the parts that will
make you look good? Whether what you have said
or not said is called concealing, dissembling, equivocating, evading, exaggerating, fudging, lying, misleading, prevaricating, wa;ing or an understatement, when the person you have deceived ;nds out,
your credibility is shot. No one in business wants to
develop a reputation for being cagey or slippery. For
example, if you won’t be able to ;nish a project for a
client before you go on vacation, tell your client.
What happens when you don’t disclose the full
picture? Perhaps you hold back information or
communicate it in a way that is evasive or deceptive
by saying something like “Nothing is ;rm yet.” If
what you say is not convincing, you lose whatever
rapport you had with the person, your relationship
is wounded and it is not likely to improve.
Speaking honestly in a di;cult situation can have
positive results. Here’s an example: ;e doctor tells
the patient about a debilitating condition for which
there is no full ;x. ;e doctor says in a caring way
that medical science hasn’t come far enough yet, but
there is a partial treatment. ;e doctor describes the
treatment, though he specializes in a di;erent type
of surgery. He says he can’t answer speci;c questions; it is beyond his knowledge. The patient
appreciates the doctor’s honesty and would go to
this doctor again in a heartbeat.
Another common tactic for dealing with an
unpleasant topic is to change the subject, moving
the conversation to an irrelevant topic. For example,
if a customer tells you the product you sell has broken, you ask if he or she has warranty insurance.
Rede;ning the problem does not address the customer’s concern. What you can do to make it right
is reduce the price, replace the product or redo the
job, exchange the item or throw in something of
When things go wrong, what can happen? An
argument with the customer, a canceled order or bad
reviews posted on review sites like Yelp and Google.
Here are some guidelines for dealing with the
truth when telling the truth is uncomfortable.
• Give the full picture.
• Be nonjudgmental. Keep an open mind and
avoid putdowns and judgments.
• Be empathetic. Try to understand the other
person’s point of view.
• Make expressing feelings OK. When feelings
such as anger, frustration or fear are clari;ed, they
can lead to a constructive outcome. Bottled up, the
problem isn’t apt to be solved.
• Frame what you say in a positive way.
If you know the person will predictably object,
preface what you say with statements like “Even
though this may be hard to accept” or “Although I
doubt you will like this” or “While your impulse
may be to say no.”
Good business relationships are built on trust.
Trust and truth work together. C
HAVE YOU EVER thought of showcasing
your business at a trade show? You might dismiss it due to the cost, the time or simply not
being sure of how to go about it, but, according to the Center for Exhibition Industry
Research, 77 percent of executive decision
makers found at least one new supplier at the
last show they attended. Before you jump in,
Costco member Justin Hersh, founder and
CEO of Group Delphi (
company that designs creative trade show
exhibits and business events, has some advice.
Figure out why before you go. Most
companies’ first order of business is building
and designing a booth. We encourage compa-
nies to back up and figure out why they want
to exhibit in the first place. This leads to a
more relevant and effective design—and
sometimes even the discovery that they
should be pursuing another marketing chan-
nel altogether. When you are clear on your
purpose, you can also be clear on your suc-
cess once the show is over.
Salespeople are great,
but bring on the subject-
matter experts. People
want to converse and
immerse, not be sold
to. Attendees can get
all the sales info they
need about you from
your website. Use the
trade show to give them
something they can’t
get online: a dynamic
conversation—and a sen-
Apply technology with purpose. Don’t
reach for the latest, often expensive tech just
for the sake of keeping up. Make sure
any technology used in your
exhibit is purposeful.
Create opportunities for
conversation. Be it comfortable couches, an inviting coffee shop setup or a wine
bar, offer a place where
attendees are happy to
stay for a while. This also
means ensuring your
booth doesn’t look like a
fortress, surrounded by
barriers that make it tough
to see, or step, inside. C
Are you telling the
Tricks of the trade (show)
PAUL AND SARAH
Paul and Sarah Edwards
are the authors of 17
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