When I was in the second grade, having a piece of candy was everything to me. I dreamed of all kinds of candy. In fact, I had a recurring dream that always ended with me in my candy-filled (to the ceiling!) basement. This made waking up to reality a major disappointment. Yes, during that year of my life, candy was king.
In order to fulfill my obsession, I would visit the confectionery around the corner from my school three times a day – before school, at lunch, and after school. It was convenient, and it offered a wide selection of my favourite sweets. And, even though the owner was curmudgeonly, he would offer me discounts as well as the occasional free candy bar. He would whisper to me that I was his favourite customer and that I shouldn’t tell anyone else. Because of this I was even more inclined to fill my gut with all sorts of sugar treats. I mean, really? Free candy? In my mind he became the best guy EVER and his store was the only place I would go to buy my barrels of candy.
It wasn’t long before I found out through my friends that he was telling us all the same thing. Apparently, each one of us was his favourite customer. Of course, I could have chosen to ignore the fact he told each of us a little white lie, and continued to enjoy his candy and the occasional discount. But even at that age it left me feeling cold. I felt I didn’t really know him. I began to see his curmudgeon side more and more. I didn’t trust him. I no longer felt a connection to that man, and it was strong enough to encourage me to take my money and sugar fixation to another store.
This childhood memory has stuck with me to this date. From that moment on I have ensured that the foundation of any communications strategy I prepare for an employer or client is built on trust. Everything else flows from that. And, without it, your entire business could fail – especially if your product or service is a common commodity.
Have you ever felt like a business wasn’t being entirely honest with you? If so, did that have an impact your relationship?