“When in doubt, tell the truth.” (Mark Twain) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write – I often use “Snopes” to determine whether or not something on the internet is true. But, how do we determine if someone in our life is telling the truth? Do we look for flaming trousers…or a Pinocchio nose? M.T., in his quote, is not writing about others, he’s directing the words at us. Life goes better when we tell the truth. And there’s another benefit: “If we tell the truth, we don’t need a good memory.”
I emphasize with my real estate clients that I believe in total transparency in our dealings. That involves not only hold to today’s little quote to tell the truth, but also to be totally honest with them and to not do anything behind their backs. You may be wondering why that would even be an issue. It has to do with how real estate transactions are conducted.
In real estate transactions there is usually no direct buyer-seller interaction until both parties get to the closing table. Everything up to that point usually goes through the two real estate agents involved (or one in those cases where one agent represents both sides). That means that the buyer sees the house with his/her agent and makes their subsequent offer through that agent. In the interim the buyer and their agent may have discussions about the market value of the house, based upon “Comps” that the buyer’s agent may find. In some cases the buyer may instruct his agent to try to discern what leeway there may be in the asking price. There is the potential for some back and forth between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent during this period and that agent-to-agent dialogue is where the opportunity for some shenanigans exists.
Sometime agents get so full of themselves that they decide that they know what’s best for their clients and don’t consult with them about what information may be exchanged with the other side. Even worse, sometimes the agents are so intent on closing a sale to make their commission that they forget about their clients best interests and do whatever is necessary to move the sale along. I’ve hit agents who do most of the negotiating on a sale without even talking to their clients – usually young, first-time buyers who have misplaced their trust in their “experienced agent.”
My business philosophy is that I’m an experienced facilitator of the sale and an educator of my clients. I understand the real estate sale process and see my job as helping them understand all of the facts and alternatives at each decision point, so that they can make an informed decision. It is not my job to make those decisions for them. Total transparency is required in order to make that philosophy work. I can’t hold back information or tell them only a part of what I’ve said to the other agent. In fact I can’t say anything to the other side that does not reflect the desires or decisions that my client have made. I’m not buying the house; they are. To make sure that I follow that guideline, I always copy my clients in any and all emails that go back and forth to the other side.
Sometimes this commitment to transparency does slow the sale a bit, just due to the time it may take to communicate and educate about the decisions that need to be made or the consequences of those decisions. That’s OK with me. I think of a little saying by John Wooden during those times –
“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
I don’t like do-overs or having to go back and correct mistakes or repair damage. The most efficient and easiest things to do is to do it right the first time and that means being totally open and honest throughout the transaction – being transparent.
Perhaps being transparent is a good way to live life in general. At least, like Jack said in his post you don’t have to have a good memory. You don’t have to remember which “truth” you told the person that you’re currently with or whether you have been holding something back from them. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t exercise some restraint in what and how you share things. Some people are known for being “blunt” with others and that is because they sometimes share too much, too honestly and too quickly. When someone asks, “Does this dress make me look fat?”; one doesn’t have to blurt out “Yes!” Saying something that is honest but less blunt, like “I’m not sure that the lines are right for you” or “It’s not as flattering as on you as that dress you had on last” is still being honest without being hurtful.
In the long run, true friends and even co-workers will come to value your truthfulness and strengthen their bond of friendship because they know that they can count on you to be honest with them. Establishing a bond based upon honesty and openness is an essential step towards eventually dropping your emotional shields and sharing your emotions and deepest thoughts. That happens in successful marriages and with those whom we are truly BFF’s.
So start each day with Mark Twain’s little saying in mind – “When in doubt, tell the truth.” – because you probably won’t get the opportunity to go back later and do it over. Have a great week ahead.