Who Serves as Your Truth-Teller?

By Chris Crouch

My wife and I were recently strolling through a small tourist spot when we happened upon one of those vintage machines that guesses your weight, your age and tells your fortune. According to the instructions, all you had to do was stand very still facing the machine and drop a specified coin in the slot.

As luck would have it, I had the required coin in my pocket. So, I stood very still, looked directly into the front of the machine and dropped the requested coin into the slot. The machine made a few whirring noises, launched into a series of pinball machine-like dinging sounds and then spit out a small card with information on both sides.

I began reading the card out loud. It said, “You are handsome, strong, brilliant and charming. Women all love you and men want to be like you.” I paused, turned toward my wife, lowered my head a bit, raised my eyebrows and confidently glanced at her over the top of my glasses. As I continued reading the card my wife snatched it from my hand and turned it over and said, “Look, they got your age and weight wrong too!” It was a bubble-bursting moment for me. We both laughed.

OK, my wife occasionally reads this column, so let me quickly state that one of her many, many attractive qualities (way too many to articulate in this short article) is the fact that she possesses a very keen sense of humor. However, let me also point out that as equal partners in a small business that we have been running for well over a decade now, we provide each other with something very valuable – honest feedback and ongoing reality checks.

If you own a small business, or serve as a senior person in a large business, it is a good idea to have someone who helps you stay in touch with reality.

I am currently reading Daniel Pink’s new book titled “To Sell Is Human.” The book describes how we have moved from a “caveat emptor” (buyer beware) to a “caveat venditor” (seller beware) selling environment. In other words, if you treat customers inappropriately these days, you will likely find your actions well communicated on the various social media platforms. Early in the book Pink states that, “Most of what we think we understand about selling is constructed atop a foundation of assumptions that has crumbled.”

Here’s what caught my eye that relates to the fortune-telling, reality-check story. Credible research mentioned in Pink’s book indicates that those who enjoy even a small injection of power become less likely to understand someone else’s point of view. Therefore, an inverse relationship exists between our managerial power and understanding how others perceive our actions. And over the long haul, highly successful business people are typically very good at seeing the world through the eyes of others.

So, if you have a lot of position power, who serves as the ongoing truth-teller in your world?

Chris Crouch is CEO of DME Training and Consulting and author of several books on improving productivity. Contact him through www.dmetraining.com.