Hank went to the store to buy a simple, and expensive, tool. He told Jack, the store’s representative, what he planned to do and relied on Jack’s expertise. Jack explained how to use the tool; his goal was simply to close the deal.
When Hank got home, he realized the tool did not perform as expected and went back to the store to return it for a refund. Jack quietly told him that he could not take the tool back for a refund but could show him, again, how to use it. He then performed the same demonstration as before, adding this time that Hank’s materials would not work and would have to be changed.
This was all new information and Hank was annoyed. The expensive tool he wanted now held no value for him. He took his business somewhere else.
Withholding information leads to a lot of problems:
- Watching the earlier demonstration get repeated, Hank felt Jack was treating him like a child who was incapable of understanding the process. He lost respect for Jack’s character.
- Learning information was withheld the first visit, Hank felt Jack manipulated and took advantage of him. He no longer trusts Jack or respects his competency.
- It can take a long time and a lot of work to rebuild any relationship. In this case Jack’s company lost a good customer and may never be able to get him back.
- When people are upset with someone’s service, they tell others – a lot more often than they tell people about good service. In this era of social media, negative comments travel fast and far.
People frequently withhold information, and not just in retail environments. Sometimes it is intentional, sometimes accidental. Regardless, when people learn they are not dealing with all the relevant facts there are always consequences. Those consequences will vary in severity depending the importance of the information, and almost always include a loss of trust as a minimum. If someone makes a habit of withholding information, it can have much more serious consequences for the relationship.
To protect yourself from disappointments like this ask enough questions to feel comfortable you are getting the entire answer. If you aren’t sure what to ask, you can put forth some potential scenarios or even ask what you are overlooking. If someone isn’t interested in sharing the time and information with you find someone who is. Protect yourself from the aggravation of someone else’s mistakes.
If you are the one providing information, make sure you give the whole story.