Why I Said “Not Interested”

So, has this ever happened to you?

You get a phone call from a number you don’t recognize, but you answer it anyway.  The person on the other end of the call says something like this: “May I speak with Charlie?”

Since you’re not Charlie you say, “I’m sorry; you have the wrong number.”

Then the other person says, “O.K., but while I have you on the phone I’d like to tell you that I’m raising money for _____________ ” (insert name of charitable organization).

That’s right, you’ve been reeled in by a salesperson!

That person knew that your name wasn’t Charlie and he or she was never trying to call Charlie.  He or she was simply looking for a conversational entry point to make his or her pitch.

But did the telemarketer have to lie?

The cause I was being asked to donate money to was a good one, but since the conversation began from a false premise, a ruse, and a trick, I was turned off completely and didn’t want to keep talking to someone who thought so little of me that she couldn’t start with the truth. That’s why I said, “Not interested.”

However, this brings up an interesting point about honesty.

The Bible encourages honesty and God insists on it because its moral value flows out of God’s character.  Since “it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18), he wants his created beings to be honest in all their dealings as well.

But all of God’s moral standards are designed to protect us from certain harms and to provide us with certain blessings.  In the case of honesty, author Josh McDowell lists the following practical benefits of being honest:

  • Honesty protects one from guilt and provides for a clear conscience. When you’re honest, you don’t always have to be looking over your shoulder. You can be transparent, because you aren’t trying to cover your tracks. There is personal liberty in being truthful.
  • Honesty protects one from shame and provides for a sense of accomplishment. Cheating robs people of the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment gained in doing an honest job. The person cannot take genuine pride in his performance, because he has not earned it. He may deceive others, but he still knows the truth about himself.
  • Honesty protects from the cycle of deceit and provides for a reputation of integrity. People are drawn to those who are sincere, because they know they won’t be taken advantage of unfairly. Those who defraud others ruin their own reputation and give themselves a bad name. They are ensnared in their own webs and bound by their own entanglements.
  • Honesty protects people from ruined relationships and provides for trusting relationships. The very foundation of relationships is built upon trust, and trust cannot survive in the atmosphere of deceit. It undergirds marriage vows and business agreements with a reassuring, fortifying element. A strong foundation of trust will improve and enrich the quality of your relationships, providing something that money can’t buy, and dishonesty can’t achieve.

Another practical benefit is that honesty helps you win people to your cause.  Whether that cause is to raise money, raise awareness, convert others, or communicate a message, if the cause requires you to lie as a strategy, you will end up limiting your success in the end.  That’s why I don’t understand these telemarketers who start their conversation from a false premise.  I actually might be interested in helping your cause, but I’m not hanging around long enough to hear about it because you lied to me.

We’re seeing this effect now in the public’s attitude toward the media, Congress, the Presidency, and other institutions that used to be trusted.  Their repeated dishonesty has lost the people’s faith and confidence, and one lesson we ought to be learning from this experience is that honesty matters – not just in theory but in practice.

It’s a good lesson to apply to our personal lives.

Because it could be that the reason we’re getting the “not interested” vibe from others is because we’re not being honest with them.

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