People give your words back to you.

In the past, I’ve had a struggle of what felt like being honest, but was actually me being unconfident.

Recently, an acquaintance of mine lost a lot of weight, and said my husband is treating me better, strangers are smiling at me on the street, and coworkers are all nicer to me. She says, “At first, I thought all these people were super shallow, treating me better because I now look better. Then, after a couple days I had an epiphany, people are treating me better because I’m giving off a better energy. I’m smiling more. So they are smiling back. They’re giving me my positive energy back. When I was fat, I was the one that didn’t like fat people, and they gave that energy back to me too.”

If a customer asks, “Can you do this?” It’s natural to want to say, “Well, we’ve never done exactly this before, but it’s similar, so I think we can do it.”

It’s possible to just say, “Yes, we can do that.” Just make sure a couple things are true:

  • That it’s not so far out of your wheelhouse, that it’s essentially a lie. If you’re a civil engineer and you’re promising a super feat of software engineering and it’s never been your profession, you’re in this category.
  • Spell out what obstacles are, how they will be approached, and work with your client to understand the risks. If the risks weighed against your confidence are too lop-sided, then turn down the work after the proposal has been reviewed.

Use good judgment to not lie, but don’t give the client words that they will use against you when they didn’t help the customer make any educated decision about you.