We all know that whether it’s a great fishing story, hunting story, or business deal the details are often a bit fuzzy and seem to only get fuzzier over time. It’s usually not that big of a deal and just like with fishing stories some exaggeration is expected even in business (plus or minus 10%). However, if you stretch the truth too much or too often it’s very likely to result in a loss of credibility that may be impossible to recover from. So what do you do if you find yourself in the position of getting caught adding some size to that deal you landed in order to impress a new client or to get a new job?
- Immediately come clean – whatever you do, it’s important to never dig the hole you are in any deeper. It’s way easier to recover if you just come clean and explain your spin as best you can (saying you were wrong indicates that your integrity matters to you). Whoever you are talking to will respect that a lot more than you might imagine.
- Accept that deals come in all sizes – focus on the deals you did get because even if they aren’t gigantic that really shouldn’t be the point. If you landed the deal and delivered on it well then that small deal could easily turn into something bigger down the road. This isn’t one of those trite “size doesn’t matter” points, of course it does when it comes to business deals. However, what matters more to new clients and employers is regardless of the size you made the most of every deal.
- Come clean even if it isn’t you that exaggerated. I find quite often that it’s the people I am with that tend to stretch the size of a deal or accomplishment (even if it is about something I have done or we have done together). What is intended as flattery actually just brings you into something that you need to clear up. It’s better to politely correct them while still supporting the point they were trying to make. Don’t be guilty by association.
Nobody is perfect and there will be times when you honestly don’t remember the details as well as you may like. If the details are fuzzy then wait and get back to anyone that is asking questions until you have the facts or clearly tell them “don’t quote me on this” because then you have at least set their expectations properly.
In the end having the integrity to come clean and reel in any exaggerations will pay off in catching way bigger fish/deals down the road. If somehow telling the truth is a problem then frankly that’s probably telling you a lot more about the person listening than it is about you. Guard your integrity as you would your life because otherwise people are just not going to want to have you in there boats.