‘Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, truth loving.’ James E. Faust
Have you ever lied at work? Do you tell half-truths to get the sale or job? Do you keep promises?
What does this quiz say about you?
Answer yes or no.
1. I’ve lied on my resume or fudged reports.
2. I call in sick when I’m not.
3. I surf the internet on company time.
4. I fail to disclose pertinent information.
5. I’ve cheated on school or employment tests.
6. I’d tell a face-saving lie to protect my career.
7. I exaggerate the truth or tell white lies to avoid hurting someone.
8. I’ve stolen office supplies or padded expense accounts.
9. I lie to better serve my employer or clients.
10. I’ve copied software or reproduced cassettes.
Scoring: One point for each “yes.” The higher your score, the more you could enhance honesty.
Lying is stressful, and stress harms health and accelerates aging. Frequent lying and fear of exposure keeps your body’s “fight or flight” response on. Long term activation of this system may result in health conditions like heart disease.
The Pinocchio Effect also kicks in when you lie. The temperature in the muscles around the nose becomes hotter, according to Emilio Milán and Elvira López at the University of Granada. There is corresponding action in the insular cortex of the brain which controls emotions. Fear of being caught in a lie increases activity in the insular cortex, leading to more heat emanating from the nose. The researchers called this the Pinocchio effect. In Walt Disney’s Pinocchio, the boy puppet’s lies are revealed whenever his wooden nose grows.
Lying damages a person’s self respect and credibility. Dishonesty also affects company productivity. Using company time and stealing small items add up. Honest employees pay for others’ lack of integrity through stricter rules, or other..
Why people lie
Children learn to lie. Many don’t view cheating on exams as unethical. Dishonest behavior is encouraged when schools fail to show disapproval of students’ cheating. The same message is given when parents cheat on taxes. Children learn all methods for achieving goals are justified.
We fib because we need to appear competent, want to avoid hurt or conflict, desire to protect our jobs, or not rock the boat. Some workers may lie about a sick child to protect themselves from taking another business trip. Others who call in sick are tending to personal needs. Not all supervisors understand employees’ need for family or relaxation time. Business behaviors such as not disclosing pertinent information or selling defective goods are rationalized along the same lines.
Political and business leaders have lied for centuries. Recent studies conducted by Paul Piff, social psychologist, at the University of California, Irvine, found that self-interests tend to spur the elite to lie and cheat.
Lies have hidden costs, not only in productivity and teamwork, but in a person’s self-respect. It’s difficult to stop, once you start exaggerating the truth. People who lie don’t remember who knows what. A major consequence is damaged credibility.
Various workplace situations facilitate untruthful behaviors. Employee dishonesty may be a sign of outdated company policies. Workers may take time off for questionable family needs because the employer has no flex time or personal care days.
William Shakespeare offers sage advice: “Honesty is the best policy. If I lose mine honor, I lose myself.” Additional suggestions follow.
– Love and accept yourself. Know what you want. Surround yourself with supportive people who accept you for who you really are.
Don’t compromise your integrity and reputation by associating with people whose standards of integrity you mistrust.
– Speak the truth. Communicate in an open and honest fashion. Exaggerating your ability to meet expectations will hurt your status and business more than being honest up front. Truth and trust go together. Lies erode others’ faith in you.
– Say what you mean and mean what you say. Present both sides of an issue to ensure objectivity. Simplify your statements so that others understand your message. Tell people the rational behind your decisions so that your intent is understood.
– Keep promises. If there is a genuine reason you can’t reveal your position, such as when you’re negotiating, consider saying, “I can’t discuss that now.”
Hold people accountable when their actions don’t match their words.. If you have a personal bias or a conflict of interest make it known to people with whom you are interacting.
– Avoid compromising situations. If your boss tells you to lie about a given situation, gently decline saying you’re not comfortable with the idea, or offer an alternative way to achieve the goal. If you find yourself in many compromising situations, think about moving on.
– Shift mindset. Lying is a learned survival strategy that can be unlearned. Note what triggers your decision to lie. What fear (e.g., being wrong, hurting someone) is behind this choice? Why do you believe the lie will have a better outcome, and for whom? Reflect on your answers to uncover your motivation, and make needed modifications.
When you sense yourself crafting a lie, ask yourself. “What’s the worst that can happen if I tell the truth?”
– Visualize an image of your honest self. Focus on this image to maintain truthfulness in all situations.
Additional tips for maintaining truthfulness and strengthening other Quester traits are discussed in award winning audiobook, Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life by Dr. Carole Kanchier:
Dr. Carole Kanchier, registered psychologist, career and personal growth expert, is author of award winning, Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life. Carole Kanchier inspires people to realize their potential and look at career advancement in new ways. Dr. Kanchier pioneered the unique model of lifelong growth and decision making which she shares in “Questers Dare to Change.” www.questersdaretochange.com.