Can I Be Honest With You? No, Lie to Me.

By Nancy Friedman, Customer Service Keynote Speaker; President, Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training


A week or so ago I posted this short comment and the response was a good amount of agreement that the phrase is not a good one. So we’re delving a bit deeper.

Nancy Friedman customer service keynote speakerWhat are the ramifications of saying, “can I be honest with you?” to a customer, prospect or anyone for that matter? To name a few:

* It’s a ‘trust’ violator.

* It’s considered ‘social noise.’

* It reduces your credibility because people expect honesty. We call it a credibility buster.

* There’s a hidden message in what you’re saying.

And there are plenty of ‘cousins’ to that phrase that are annoying phrases. Do these sound familiar?

* Can I tell you the truth?

* Let me be perfectly frank.

* You want the truth?

* I’m gonna level with you.

* Can I be candid with you?

Do you feel there is an appropriate time when it’s OK to use this phrase? Here are 3 reasons why NOT.

* It’s simply not effective. Avoid the phrase.

* It’s a totally useless phrase.

* This phrase questions your own integrity. Customers, family, and friends expect the truth and your honesty.

When we hear “Can I be honest with you?” we tend to wonder about the previous and forthcoming information. We expect the truth every time. So why the disclaimer?

A few (but not limited to) replacements might be: “Here are my thoughts” or “You make a good point; however, I was thinking about this . . .”


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Nancy Friedman, customer service keynote speaker, is president of Telephone Doctor Customer Service Training and a featured speaker at franchise, association, and corporate meetings around the world. A popular TV guest, she appeared on Oprah, The Today Show, CNN, FOX News, Good Morning America and CBS This Morning, as well as hundreds of other radio, television and print outlets around the world, including the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. The author of 9 books on her chosen topics, Nancy helps corporate America improve their communications with their customers & co-workers. You can see her 9 books here. For more information, log on to Nancy Friedman's website or call (314) 291-1012. Oh yeah you can email her at Nancy is a recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame Award - St. Louis Small Business Monthly