Don’t be surprised to hear Donald Trump use these five words — a lot

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(This post originally appeared on The Washington Post)

Donald Trump has made a lot of promises during his campaign for president. He’s not going to keep them all. But that’s OK. Ask any person who runs a business and we already know this. Not only do we know this, but we know what he’s going to say. Because it’s what we say.

Get ready for the five words.

What does a good employee say when he can’t actually do the job that he said he could do? What does a reliable supplier say when he can’t deliver products to me as promised? What do my good customers say when they fall a little behind in paying a bill? What do I say when I find that the project I sold to a client won’t turn out exactly what I hoped?

Here’s what we all say: I’ve got a better option!

In other words: No, things aren’t turning out exactly like I thought. But don’t worry, I’ve figured something else out and you’re going to love it. It’s an even better deal!

This is how people in business operate. We make lots of promises and always with the best of intentions. We estimate hours and materials. We take our best guesses at a timeline. We create the best vision possible of a successful outcome. We are always promising something that we feel confident we can deliver, but not every 100 percent sure of it. We can’t control events or people’s actions. We don’t say that to the other party because we don’t want to lose their confidence and forfeit the project/job/deal/sale. That’s what it’s like to be in business. This is what we do.

This is what Trump is going to do too – and anyone who runs a business won’t be surprised. Like every successful business owner I know, Trump is a salesman. I don’t believe he’s dishonest or trying to swindle the American public just like I don’t believe that my employee, customer, partner or supplier is trying to swindle me. Salespeople paint a picture, sell a vision and then figure out how they’re going to execute on that vision. We know that it’s not going to always turn out the way we planned. But we’re going to make sure the end result is at least as good if not better than what was promised.

Donald Trump will probably not build a wall. But he, along with Republican leaders, will come up with a “better option” or a “better deal” to address our immigration problems. He will not exclude Muslims from immigrating to this country. He will not end trade with China. He will not “fix” healthcare.”

All of this is a salesman’s pitch to his customer. These are things people in business say when they start a negotiation. It’s the first offer. And no deal is done on the first offer. There is always back and forth which means a modification in terms. But in the end, as Trump has written and said many times, a deal isn’t successful unless both parties walk away feeling satisfied.

So get ready for Trump to say those five words. Again and again. People that run businesses won’t be surprised. And neither should you.


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