The word transparency sums up one of the keys to my success as a television host on the world’s number one electronic retailer, QVC. By putting transparency into place as a part of my product presentations, I was able to sell almost $4 billion worth of merchandise during my twenty-nine-year career.
I’ll never forget the pivotal moment when the importance of transparency became crystal clear to me (forgive the play on words.) I was presenting a set of nonstick cookware. I had prepared a pasta dish in a large skillet, and as I began to transfer it onto a plate, the pasta went flying over the plate and onto the studio floor! The director instructed the cameraman not to show it, but I knew the viewers had already seen the pasta miss the plate.
To the director’s chagrin, I walked out in front of the counter and called for the camera to come in tight for a close-up of the pile of pasta on the floor. I then laughed at myself and said that this was a common occurrence in my kitchen at home. I told the viewers that I often made a mess in the kitchen whenever I tried to cook. There was no denying how slippery the nonstick pan was, so I emphasized that they would never have to worry about food sticking to their cookware again!
After the show, I was bombarded with emails from viewers. (Yes, this was before Facebook existed!) The viewers loved the fact that I showed them the mess I had made and that I admitted that I missed the plate. They also loved that I told them I was not a very good cook. That day, many people told me they totally related to me because they weren’t good in the kitchen, either. While most of them enjoyed the humor of my mistake, they absolutely loved the fact that I didn’t try to hide it!
A light bulb turned on inside my brain. I realized that by being honest and transparent, I had built up their trust in me. It was one of the most important lessons I learned about sales and life. By admitting my mistake, drawing attention to it, and laughing at myself, I was able to turn my mistake into one of my best moments in front of the television camera. I made many mistakes after that, but I always pointed them out and had fun admitting my humanness.
We tend to go into protection mode when we feel like somebody is trying to “sell” us. Subconsciously, we put our hands over our wallets to keep our money safe. The goal of a great salesperson is to have people take out their wallets, give you their money, and feel great about doing it. This doesn’t happen until you, the salesperson, build trust with the customer. It is extremely important to be real, and to be real, you have to be transparent.
From that day on, transparency became a watchword for me. It is not only a key to success in the sales world, but in any business or personal relationship. People know when you are being real. Transparency is the key to being trustworthy.
It takes courage to let people see you for who you really are. But transparency leads to trust in any relationship, whether it is with your boss, your employee, your spouse, your child, or your friend. For people to fully love you, they must fully trust you first.
Even the Bible tells us that transparency is not an option. The book of John says, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Most people are afraid to let the world know who they truly are. They tend to hide behind the image they present on the job, on social media, and to other people. Everyone seems to be more concerned about how they are perceived than who they really are.
Here are three practical ways to weave transparency into your life:
Take control of your tendency to cover up your mistakes.
Think about what you are going to say before you say it. Make sure you are being truthful.
Recognize when your pride tries to keep you from being totally transparent.
Just as light shines through transparent objects, so truth shines through transparent people. Let’s let the truth shine us each and every day.
“Speak the truth. Transparency breeds legitimacy.”
—John C. Maxwell
Transparency is written by Dan Wheeler