Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Integrity: Who you are when no one is looking

How far would you be willing to go to keep your word? Would you honor a commitment even if it hurt? What about if no one but you would ever be the wiser? I always thought I had the question of integrity answered but a recent promise to deliver a discount to one of my diamond clients had me second-guessing my good intentions...if only for a moment.

Here’s how the dilemma came about. Seldom do I receive an additional discount from this one particular vendor I purchase stones from; the standard discount for the type of diamond this customer was purchasing would be about $500. In my mind, that was the savings I had promised to pass on and only if I received it. I did make it clear that that additional discount rarely happens.  However, when my vendor came back with a $4,000 discount I faced a huge battle of conscience. The struggle was between keeping my promise to pass on whatever discount I received or pocketing the profit and giving my client the expected amount. In the end, I passed on the full savings to a very grateful and pleasantly surprised customer. He got more than he expected that day and I guess you could say I did too.

It seems like an easy thing to say you are a person of your word -- but what if keeping it comes at a cost? Better yet, what if no one would ever know the difference? This instance gave me pause for thought. I had been raised with a great work ethic and a very uncompromising sense of right and wrong but in the business world is wrong always wrong? Turns out it really is.

Remember the days when a handshake was as binding as a contract? When was the last time you “shook on it” to close the deal? I do it all the time. I admit, it’s an old-fashion way of living but if you are who you say you are, your word is all the promise anyone will ever need. Consider for a moment your own reputation. Do you show up on time and deliver what’s expected? Do you own up to your mistakes and refund when someone overpays? Do you treat your clients, and your employees, with respect and honor? Integrity may seem like something of the past, but when you live your life in pursuit of it, it pays back in immeasurable ways. Try it!

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