“Let Me Be Honest With You” – STOP!!!

by | Sep 15, 2009

We have all either said the phrase or heard it:

“Let me be honest with you.”

Have you ever thought about what that statement really means though?

If I say, “Let me be honest with you,” I’m actually telling you that I have not been honest with you in the past. After all, if I was being honest with you in our normal conversations then I would not need to ever make that statement. I fully understand that most people who say “let me be honest with you” are not trying to say “I’ve been lying to you, but now I’m going to tell the truth.” Yet, ironically, when you think about it, that’s exactly what it means.

Let me be honest with you

One of the most common times I hear this phrase is during sales calls. The prospect asks a probing question, and then the sales person, wanting to make sure that the prospect believes them, says “Let me be honest with you . . .” as a preface to their response. What’s important to understand is that the prospect’s subconscious will pick up on this irony and negatively weigh all of your other statements based upon this declaration that now you’re going to be honest.

It’s natural for sales people to use such common phrases when we’re working with prospects. I know that normally we do so with the best intentions. Understand though that using such phrases damages your credibility and negatively impacts your rapport with the prospect.

The next time you find yourself wanting to reassure someone that you are really being honest with them, in lieu of using a credibility-crushing phrase like "let me be honest" try the following:

  1. Pause
  2. Look them in the eye
  3. Smile
  4. Respond…honestly

It takes practice to weed such phrases out of our normal speech patterns. Start working on it today and build stronger, more trusting relationships with your prospects and clients. Such relationships will undoubtedly lead to more profitable relationships.