Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Don't Lie

I remember when I was a child, the worst thing I could ever do was lie. It didn't matter that I broke something, hurt someone or did something bad. It was only when I lied about it that I got into real trouble. Stealing and then lying about it was the worst thing I could ever do (I did it just once). Trust and honesty were indelibly inked into my personality from an early age.

That's why I find other people's behaviour so confusing. I don't understand when people misdirect attention away from the company and back onto the customer. I've seen individuals intentionally lie about faults, with a straight face, and not a hint of shame.

Don't do that. Don't lie to your customers. Your customers will eventually figure it out, no matter how stupid you think they are. Even worse, it will cause confusion in your own team. You know that fault you convinced the customer was their fault? Everyone internally thinks that it's been resolved too. So, when it crops up again, which it will, you've just wasted time, instead of buying yourself some breathing space.

Sometimes you might feel that you really, really need to lie to the customer. O.k. we'll have to disagree there. Even so, if you are going to lie to the customer, make sure that you don't lie to yourselves at the same time.

And understand, if I see you lying, I won't be impressed. I'll think you're an idiot and I won't trust you with anything.

Corollary - Every setting has a reason. If the default has changed, ask yourself "why has that changed?" Don't assume that it was done for no reason.

1 comment:

Determinist said...

Now I'm curious as to who you are talking about! :)

I agree, and in fact, I just did something about a similar, although more honest suggestion about enforcing different dependencies than the ones listen in a patch release notes so that the customer would upgrade to the new MR's. Silly, but honestly attempting to help the customer.

In general, I don't think that lying is as bad as people say. I remember reading "Notes to Future Civilizations" by John Barnes and he discussed that only Barbarians HAVE to be honest all the time, and it's often a sign of a more civilized person to be able to lie to spare people's feelings or help a friend out of an awkward situation. I see the point, but don't know if I completely agree.

With your situation, lying to a customer is just going to make your life harder down the road - dumb.

Stealing - well, I don't do it and don't understand people who do.