It seems now more than ever, our society and culture has mistakenly evolved to perpetuate the belief that truth is relative. Essentially, truth has somehow shifted to a moving target based on one’s experiences and feelings instead of empirical and historical evidence.
The ramifications of this slippery slope should not go unnoticed. After all, if truth is only relative to a person’s situation or emotions or even beliefs, how can one ever definitively argue a point; any point?
Until the last few years of this past century, truth was definite, measured and observed based on facts. You could say that truth was truth. But you may ask, “What is truth?” The dictionary defines truth as “that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.” But according to many millennials, it’s not that simple. They rhetorically ask “Why box yourself in to such a confining belief?”
Aside from never really having a solid foundation upon which you can rely, this kind of thinking can also negatively affect your careers and relationships.
To prove a point, let me tell you a quick but embarrassing personal story of an experience I had three decades ago. It’s an experience that demonstrated for me the power and advantages of quickly embracing truth when confronted. It also indelibly planted in my mind the lesson to always strive for truth in every situation.
Early in my adult life, I worked for an office supply company that provided office furniture, accessories, business equipment and services for small to mid-sized businesses. Among other things, it was my job to prospect to, identify decision-makers and sell our lineup of products to these business owners. On one occasion, I sold a pretty large and expensive piece of office equipment to a local small business. At the time, it was one of the largest sales of my career and included an equally large sales commission. I remember arriving back at my office to announce the sale to everyone and being pretty thrilled and flattered by the accolades I received from the other sales people and the owner of our company for my accomplishment.
Everything was great! I was the new kid on the block who just landed this amazing sale and I was about to receive a huge bonus for it. However, this time of celebration would come to an abrupt end within just a few days after the equipment had been delivered and setup.
Unknown to me, my customer needed an adjustment to the equipment and requested service by calling the manufacturer’s service number. During the call, the service representative informed my customer that the equipment he thought was new was actually considered used because of it being a ‘demo’ unit. Naturally, my customer was irate! You see, when talking to my customer, I misrepresented this equipment as being new, never mentioning the fact that it had actually been toted around town being demonstrated for several other customers.
After ending this call, the customer immediately phoned the owner of my company and blasted him, threatening to sue if we either did not replace the equipment for provide a huge discount for the misrepresentation (lie). He assured the customer that he would make him whole on any loss and asked to meet him in person to apologize and work out something. After hanging up, he came to my office and confronted me about the call and asked if, in fact, I had done what the customer alleged.
Instantly, I thought about denying everything. I thought, “I’ll just use my salesmanship and posit the ‘he said, he said’ argument.” But I knew, when you lie, you typically end up covering that one with another lie. Consequently, I immediately confessed. I then asked if I could accompany him on his visit to the customer’s office.
He agreed and we drove immediately and met with him. Upon entering his office, the owner of my company apologized to the customer and then explained that I straightaway confessed when he confronted me and that I wanted to come meet with the customer and personally apologize.
The customer was blown away! He accepted my apology and his faith in humanity was restored since he had never met anyone who admitted his guilt so quickly and had the courage to face the music. The result was a satisfied and trusting customer for years to come.
The takeaway is this: when confronted with truth, learn to embrace it as quickly as possible and never, ever avoid it or make excuses. Your future opportunities may depend on it.