I love my job, and I love people, but working with people has its challenges. Like when they lie. Most of the time I would expect that kind of thing from pushy agents, generally manipulative people, or maybe even a seller trying to hide a property flaw. Maybe. But sometimes it’s well-meaning people who lie. What happens when your clients – the people you’re trying to help – lie?
Let me share a story. Jo is a fictional client of mine. She needs to sell her house to buy another. We have checked out multiple houses together, she has asked me to give her a valuation on her house so she can sell. (a valuation is A LOT of work by the way). I devote hours of research and driving and effort to help Jo. I give her top quality, highly personalized service (that’s my thing you know) and then… it happens. I get the phone call that sounds something like this:
“Sorry Tina, I’ve decided not to sell or buy anything after all. Thanks anyway. Bye.”
Days later I hear her friends talking about how she – my supposed client- is in the process of moving. She lied. Not only that, she decided to pay someone else for my time.
Jo is just one of many clients who do this. I know I’m not the only one to whom this happens, but somehow it still surprises me every time.
Once I get over the initial shock of someone lying to me for no apparent reason, I stop to consider that they might actually have a reason. A reason doesn’t make their lying right or fair, but it helps me understand. And understanding someone else’s perspective reduces anger and replaces it with acceptance, maybe even love.
“Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other.
Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.”
― John Steinbeck
So why would well-meaning people lie? The more I think about it, the more there seem to be two common reasons: to avoid pain to self, or to avoid inflicting pain on others. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? To save people from pain sounds a little heroic even? In Jo’s case, she might have been trying to spare me the pain of hearing, “Actually, I was just using you from the start. I never intended to pay you for your time. Bye.” (this is common by the way) Or maybe she was sparing herself the pain of admitting that truth. It’s easier just to lie and hope no one ever knows.
Why do people lie? Because truth is awkward and often painful. And we squirm from pain as much as possible.
How can we lovingly deal with people when we are certain we’re being used or lied to? As far as clients go, I serve them anyway. I treat them like they’re any other honest client, and give them a high standard of care and service. My service is my business card. I do not fly into a fit of rage, tear my card in half, and throw it at the clients. They all get the same, pristine business card. They all are treated with the respect that I would hope to have.
What they do with it is their choice.
Have you ever felt like someone’s every word was a lie? How do you deal with it?