The internet is littered with articles and blog posts by project managers on how they spoke the truth about their project timelines slipping, how their clients loved them for it and how they lived happily ever after.
I have had my share of those stories and I would love to share them with you, but that would be BORING.
I could tell you that honesty is the best policy, but that would be way too CONVENTIONAL.
The reason why you should choose to be honest in your communication and deals is not because honesty always leads to a happy short-term ending. Honesty is not a commodity that you try to market when hell breaks lose and expect to sell it every time. If you think of honesty as a commodity, chances are that you will find it really hard to market.
Honesty is not a last resort escape route.
Its a way of life.
Its your attitude.
Its who you are.
Honesty begins by being honest towards your work. If you have given your hundred percent, being honest when disaster strikes is not a very difficult decision. It's the gnawing guilt of not giving in your best that makes honest communication so much more difficult when the hell breaks loose.
Your honesty test began when you were doing your job when the sky was blue and when the birds were chirping, not when the sky started falling.
What were you doing when the storm of panic had not started? Working to the best of your abilities? Honestly?
Honest communication is not usually very hard if you were. If you know you were not, then honesty becomes that much more harder. You find yourself playing with excuses, jargons and your fingers by pointing them at others.
I have played the blame game before.
Writing about it and admitting it, even years after it happened, was much more difficult than most people think it is but the whole point of writing about it was that it was a lifestyle change. A transition that happened over a period of years, is still happening and hopefully will continue to happen throughout the lifetime.
The good thing about some of these experiences though, is once you have been through just one of them and burnt yourself, the decision of being honest towards your work becomes a hardcoded part of your lifestyle; and once that happens, the decision of being honest in your communication, even when the sky is falling is a no brainer.
If you were a programmer did you write the best of the code you could? Fought to the best of your abilities to avoid crappy decisions?
If you were leading a team, did you do the best leading, keeping an eye on the project without getting in the way and the best mentoring that you possibly could?
If you were a marketer were you honest to your client when telling him about your product features?
Go on. The next time the devil knocks on your shoulders nudging you to take that shortcut in your daily work life, give him a cold shoulder. Being brutally honest, when the hell breaks lose will be that much more easier if you know deep down inside that you were honest all through and that you did the best you could.
I wish you good luck.