By Barry Maher
We’ve talked before about presenting potentially negative information to others.
Having a skeleton in the closet is a lot more fun when you can make it dance.
Now obviously, this isn’t a call to swamp everyone around you in as much negative information as you can possibly unload on them about yourself, your situation, your vision and your proposals. What you reveal or don’t reveal and to whom you reveal it or don’t reveal it is up to you. This is not about ethics. This is about maintaining your own sense of integrity—about being the person you want to be—so you can be as successful, on your own terms, as possible. If you’re honestly comfortable keeping a piece of information to yourself, if that creates no dissonance for you, that’s between you and you.
But if you believe the person you’re dealing with has a right to know about a potential problem—or if, right or no right, they’re likely to discover it anyway—give it loud and give it proud. Confidence sells.
“No, boss, I can’t possibly finish that report by Tuesday. I could rush it but then that’s what we’ll have—a rush job. That’s not the kind of job you need me to do. If we want to get that appropriation, it’s going to take more research and it’s going to take more time. But the result is going to be worth it.”
“Do you know the best feature of this particular country estate is? The best feature is that there’s a rotting cow in your drinking water!”
“There’s a dead cow in the well. Which is the only reason this place wasn’t snapped up a long time ago, and at a considerably higher price.”
Bragging about the negative—making the skeleton dance—means getting the issue out on table where you can deal with it. So you can explain why the negative exists or why it doesn’t matter or why it’s actually a positive. Why leave it hidden for someone to stumble upon later, when you have no control at all over the situation?
The unspoken message is, Yes, this potential problem exists, just like you suspected. I’d never try to kid you about that. But obviously, it doesn’t bother me to let you know about it. I’m sure you’re still going to go along with me. And here’s why
Nothing disarms a potential doubting Thomas like honesty. Truth is the ultimate sales trick.