Truth, lies, and unicorns revisited: the pervasiveness of lying in professional services

Andrea Howe
Category : Client relationships, Trusted advisorship November 6, 2007

I am continually struck by how often I confront my own tendency to lie with clients. Yes, I said lie. Think you’re squeaky clean? Hmmmm … I’m not so sure. Try out our five-point checklist to gauge the depth of your own trustworthiness.

In the article that Charles H. Green and I co-authored in early 2007, we asserted that business advisors (or for that matter, people) who don’t lie are like unicorns: not inconceivable, but pretty unlikely. I am no exception. I bet the same is true for you.

Charlie and I used the term “lying” to be deliberately provocative. We borrowed a Merriam-Webster definition (“to create a false or misleading impression”) and, within that definition, defined five common ways that business advisors lie to clients. Here they are, listed from the most rare to most common:

– Saying an untruth

– Speaking truth by technicality

– Telling “harmless” fibs

– Lying by omission

– A peculiar form of lying known as exceeding expectations

I have a tendency to lie by omission – not wanting to raise difficult issues in the hope that they will just magically disappear.

And you? An honest self-assessment is part of any extraordinary consultant’s regular practice. As the old saying goes, the truth shall set you free.

Originally published by BossaNova Consulting Group, Inc.
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Andrea Howe

Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).

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