Tricks of the trade: Honesty


Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.

Thomas Jefferson

Fine print, offshore and tax optimisation. I can bet you a $100 that these words sound familiar, and another $100 that they do not bring up positive associations. Practical? Maybe. But not positive.

In the evershifting world of business, certain practices have been considered both foul and decent during different times (for example, did you know that during the 18th and 19th centuries a merchant in Russia had a legal right to soak for more than a month?). But there are virtues common throughout the world that are still considered to be essential to a model human being, and which are even more defining for those who plot the course for their own USS Enterprise. Among them, honesty stands out like a shining beacon as it is becoming exceedingly rare to hear a combination of “gets things done”, “ambitious”, “knows how to set and reach goals”, “honest” in the same sentence.

There is a widespread contradiction that it is not a good idea to play your cards in the open with every potential business partner as they might use it to their advantage. And guess what – they will do exactly that, simply because you are expecting them to. You’ll be surprised how enormously influental your expectations can be on other people, and how they actually react when they are clearly told what expectations they should meet – not what they should do. Yes, there is a difference.

In fact, clearly defining your expectations is a much more efficient way to make people do things that are detrimental to the overall success of the organization. Think about it: when you tell a person what to do, he will apply the question “why?” not to the goal you are aiming to reach with giving the task but rather to the process itself. However, when you are outlining the expectations in a clear and precise manner – i.e. being honest – you are not leaving any room for the “why?”, instead giving place to “how?”.

Another important aspect of being honest lies in its cumulative ability. Gradually building a reputation of an honest person, in time you will notice that people are becoming much more open-minded with you, sharing thoughts and ideas they would otherwise keep to themselves. And there ain’t nothing better than having numerous alternative points of view to analyze, as in the modern world even the most fundamental things more often than not turn out to be wrong – that’s when honest insights show their true value.

For an entrepreneur, the so-called “people skills” are at the same time the most complex and the most useful instrument (that is, if you are not aiming to focus on the technological part – and you will still require a human interface to deliver your product and to get others on board), with honesty being the №1 to master. Yes, I get it, it is really hard to be honest with other people and even harder to be honest with yourself. But hey, ain’t no one said that it’s going to be easy. And most of the time the hardest things in life actually turn out to be the most rewarding and satisfying.

Tricks of the trade: Honesty

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