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How to deal with dishonest people in business

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If you have been in business for any length of time you have more than likely encountered some dishonest people. Perhaps it has been too many to count. The simple truth of the matter is that people will fail you: invoices will not be paid, promises will not be met, you will be treated unfairly, and a host of other wrongs.

I am by nature a very trusting person. Which makes it very easy for people to take advantage of me if I am not careful. I inevitably see the “good” in people and assume they are trustworthy. But since being in business for a mere three years I can no longer count on just two hands the number of wrongs experienced.

So, to help others I came up with 8 ways to deal with dishonest people.

  1. Get it in writing. Even if you feel 100% confident the person or organization you are dealing with is trustworthy, have a written contract. Having it in writing gives you something to refer to if the party is not living up to their promise.
  2. Hammer out the details…ALL of them. And get them in writing too. Then find all the smaller details you missed the first time. Even the smallest things that seem insignificant can create problems later if they are not in an agreement.
  3. Acknowledge the contract means nothing to a dishonest person. Even if you do all your due diligence to get every detail into the contract, even a dishonest person will go back on his word.
  4. Confront the issue at hand. Never accuse the person of being a liar or a thief, that will only fuel the fire even more and cause more problems, but rather address the actual issue. For instance, “well, we agreed that you would do X, but that hasn’t been done yet.”
  5. Hang your hat and walk away. There may come a time you just have to acknowledge the dishonest person is not going to fulfill their original promise.  Acknowledge the loss that it causes you and move on.
  6. Know that it’s not personal. If the person you are dealing with is dishonest they are more than likely dishonest to everybody, so you can’t take it personally.
  7. Trust your gut! If the deal smells fishy, it’s probably a fish. Just turn your back and walk away. Anytime I have moved forward in a deal when I had a bad gut feeling, it turned out to be a mistake.
  8. Count your blessings! Most people you deal with are actually honest, but a dishonest person can seemingly overshadow all the positive things going on in your business.

It’s sad to think so many deals and relationships can be soured because of dishonesty, but the good news is not everybody is dishonest. In fact, most people I have dealt with have been quite pleasant, forthright, and completely honest. Dishonest people are definitely the minority, but at times a bad experience can seem magnified greater than it really is.

Keeping number eight in mind is crucial! Don’t let negative experiences overshadow positive ones. Running a business is an exciting journey filled with many great opportunities to meet and work with fabulous people.

About Caleb

I'm the co-owner/founder of Bearded Brothers, an organic snackfood company. I love ultra running, rock climbing and cycling. I'm also a vegetarian, passionate about health and well-being.
  • Dheeraj Sarupria

    Lovely read. Unfortunately had to deal with a couple of dishonest people recently which made me loose a lot of time and money but it adds to the lessons. I think most of time I was cheated was I trusted blindly. I should do things keeping in mind that everyone new I am dealing with is a potential cheater so things should be done accordingly.