Trustworthiness increases when we are big enough to own up to our mistakes and weaknesses

Trustworthiness increases when we are big enough to own up to our mistakes and weaknesses. People can forgive weakness, but they won’t be as quick to forgive cover-ups. Oftentimes, if a salesperson is open about a weakness or drawback in a particular product, he or she still closes the deal. If you can present both sides of an issue, you will be considered more fair and honest. Often your honesty will be the characteristic that wins people over. It is better to risk rejection than to hide something your prospect will find out later.

Character is the combination of qualities that distinguish one person from another. Put another way, your character is who you are on the inside. It’s the things you do if you think no one’s ever going to find out. Aristotle said, “Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion.” People of character have integrity, honesty, sincerity, and maturity.

I consider integrity to be the foundation of character. In the Bible, integrity refers to individuals whose actions match the teachings and word of God. In his best-selling book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talks about how integrity is crucial to one’s ultimate success:

If I try to use human influence strategies and tactics of how to get other people to do what I want, to work better, to be more motivated, to like me and each other-while my character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity or insincerity- then, in the long run, I cannot be successful. My duplicity will breed distrust, and everything I do-even using so-called good human relations techniques-will be perceived as manipulative. It simply makes no difference how good the rhetoric is or even how good the intentions are; if there is little or no trust, there is no foundation for permanent success. Only basic goodness gives life to technique.

Korn/Ferry and UCLA-conducted study, it was found that 71% of 1,300 surveyed senior executives said that integrity was the quality most needed to succeed in business.

It is wise to avoid even the appearance of anything one may consider as immoral or as a breach of integrity. It is human nature for people to cast sweeping judgments and even spread their opinions when they don’t have all the facts. If you never place yourself in a situation where one might be misled about you or your integrity, your good, hard-earned reputation will never be compromised. Don’t ever do the type of things that would make you or your family cringe to hear or read about. Striving to maintain integrity is like having a Guardian Angel. If you pay attention, it will keep you on track. Remember the adage of Phillips Brooks, a nineteenth century clergyman: “Character is made in the small moments in our lives.”

Having integrity is like having a rock solid dam. People know a good, solid dam will hold and provide many benefits, such as electricity, water, and recreation. If you are perceived as lacking in integrity, however, it’s like having holes and leaks in your dam. When the leaks appear, everyone downstream abandons their trust in the old dam and seeks higher ground. Respect is lost and they place their trust in someone they believe has greater integrity. We can all learn from the wisdom of the ancient Israelite, King Solomon. He is recorded as saying, “A good name is more desirable than great riches.” If owning a good reputation is like owning gold, then owning integrity is like owning the mine. Abraham Lincoln gave another good analogy: “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

Honesty in marketing sells. Companies that reveal a product’s weaknesses are perceived as more honest and trustworthy. Many master marketers can turn that weakness into a positive selling point. When we reveal the negatives, not only does it increase trust, but the prospect opens her mind and the negatives are always accepted as truth. Think of the following examples:


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