Last week I was on the phone with a vendor who is also a business owner. Let’s call him, oh, I don’t know… Joe the Plumber.

After we talked for a few minutes about an upcoming project, I asked him, “Are you free to meet next week to talk about next steps?”

Somewhat quickly he replied, “I am wide open.”

Almost as quickly, I mentally threw up. No other response states more clearly, “I don’t have customers. I don’t get any referrals. I don’t have anything to do. And I am itching to get out of my unsuccessful office.”

Don’t ever tell somebody you are wide open, or anything remotely similar. Don’t say, “I am free all day,” or “Pretty much any time works for me.” This goes for when you are talking to colleagues, clients, prospects, friends, family, girlfriends, boyfriends, and especially your BOSS.

[Granted, if you have an extra close relationship / rapport with someone, then say whatever you darn well want. It doesn’t matter what you say or how you say it.]

Joe, if the fact is that you really have nothing to do and you really are available all day, you must at the bare minimum reduce the size of the “wide opening” that you disclose. For example, say to your friend, “Tuesday morning is rough, but I can meet you after my lunch appointment, perhaps at 1:30 or 4:00.”

At least then it SOUNDS like you’re sort of busy, and you can save a little face.

People like to do business with busy people, Joe. Busy bees get more done. And busy people usually do a better job doing it. I’d rather hire the plumber who can barely fit me in his schedule today, than the guy who promises to be over in five seconds flat.

UPDATE: Okay, so the vendor in question saw this posting. He called me on it. “Hey, Thom, was that posting on your company blog about ‘being wide open’ about me?” I couldn’t lie. I told him it was indeed about him, but I pointed out that many people do it, and so really it was about anybody who says those things — and it was just that his saying it inspired me to write the posting. His real name is Frank, and we’re getting together next Monday. Thank you Frank. Thom