I'm a lover, not a fighter, the old saying goes.
Well I'm a communicator, not a crook.
That doesn't mean I'm any kind of a paragon of straight talk. A search of any day's emails or a transcript of a week's phone calls would show me buttering up and building up, getting a leg up and rushing past objections. You'd see me expressing more interest than I have, asking for more rope than I deserve, giving myself the benefit of the doubt, trying to close the deal.
I'm a fucking salesman just like the next guy: I'm selling my articles, I'm selling my conferences, I'm selling myself—all day long, just like you. I'm selling this idea, right now—to both of us.
But I'm doing it as straight as I possibly can, and usually with the expectation that I'm going to know you for the rest of my life so I have to be careful not to say anything truly bullshitty that I'll forget to say the next time we talk, or another time we talk, 10 years from now.
The other day I was writing to a business associate about a situation in which his feelings may have been bruised. I was at pains to make him understand how much I appreciated a generous offer he had made me that I had reluctantly turned down. I wrote, "You're the best friend I have in this business." I looked at the sentence. I asked: Was it true? I made an inventory of other good friends I have in that sphere of my life. Were any of them better friends than this guy? No, they were not. And of course ties go to the communicator. I left the sentence in, and felt good about sending it.
I'm a communication sinner, but I'm not a communication criminal.
When I've been in situations where I've been surrounded by crooks, or expected to be one—usually, where I'm buying something I don't know the value of, or selling something whose value I doubt—I have been a terrible, terrible failure. I constantly revealed things I shouldn't have revealed, while failing to be sufficiently convincing when it was my turn to talk.
Eventually, stubbornly, and not as a result of moral righteousness but as a result of embarrassing failure, I have been forced to conclude that I am perfectly, even exceptionally good at articulating, amplifying or even exaggerating a version of a thing that I consider the truth. And, possibly because I am lazy or stupid, I am particularly bad at constructing or camouflaging or minimizing a thing I think is false.
So I need to make my home—and I do—in a relatively honest industry and surround myself with shooters who are at least as straight as me. People who are actually out to get what they say they're out to get, and people who want from me that which I am prepared to give, in exchange for a price they're willing to pay.
Which limits my options, let me tell you.
But there it is: the truth.