gatekeeper - white lies
Is honesty the best policy? Something that we often struggle with in business, particularly as a PA/EA as an inevitable part of the job, is telling the odd ‘white lie’ to get your boss out of a sticky situation or particularly boring sales pitch.
Increasingly though and possibly in response to a perceptible level of desperation creeping in, I find the integrity of sales people questionable. This is something I find particularly sad because the profession is often viewed as having questionable morals at the best of times, so how will it ever be taken seriously?
One example of this happened recently to a good friend of mine who is the PA to a well-known celebrity figure. She had been grappling with a particularly eager sales guy for some time and her boss had finally agreed to meet him if only to put an end to his pestering (not the best sales tactic I feel).
Following the meeting the product was of no interest whatsoever to her client and my friend was told to let the salesman know, which she did in a polite way. Obviously, the salesman did not take this lying down and began arguing the case only to be met by the fire-breathing persona of a busy PA with an increasing lack of patience.
Unfortunately, my friend then became quite ill and ended up taking a month off, just the sort of opportunity the salesman had been waiting for. He proceeded to email her client stating he had heard nothing from the PA and found her extremely rude, never returning emails and calls, and could he come and see him again?
All of this was complete fabrication because the celebrity knew because he had been blind-copied into all correspondence, in which it was evident that it was the salesman who had, on several occasions, stooped to being at times very rude to my friend.
Finally, deprived of the PA’s professional advice, the ‘prospect’ agreed to the meeting during which he simply roasted the guy for being a complete charlatan. Consequently, both the client and PA have told all their friends and colleagues this story and named the salesman’s company, so I know if I ever get a call from them, it isn’t going anywhere.
Honesty is the best policy, not just from an ethical point of view but you never know who is copied in to an email. Sales has come a long way with professionals now researching business’s, industries and economics to make sure they are targeting the right companies, people with the right time, with the right products but, unfortunately, this sort of behaviour just pushes the stereotype firmly back into the Arthur Daley mould.