Watch Those Fibs

Telling Fibs

In the office, as in life, most of us can be tempted, if only occasionally to either stretch the truth or to outright communicate an untruth, perhaps to protect ourselves or a co-worker, or to embellish a situation in order to make it look better.

You may be surprised to learn that leading job placement companies and career counselors have reported that on average, nearly 1 in 5 workers admitted to telling lies a minimum of once a week. And what are the main reasons for these lies?

The top one is to appease a customer, followed by covering up for some kind of failure (such as missing a deadline). Another top reason for telling a fib is to give an unexcused absence from work or for being late, followed by protecting someone else in the workplace, and finally, attempting to present a better image or appear more competent to the boss.

As you might expect, telling lies in the office, and getting caught doing so, can have negative consequences. If indeed caught in a lie, you may lose your credibility. You might also cause co-workers not to trust you, at least not fully. In some cases, you might even be fired: surveys show that almost a quarter of supervisors and other management personnel have let an associate go for not being truthful.

Among the specific kinds of lies that are often told are:

I'm sick when a person is really not;
I have to take this call which is used as a way of ending a current call;
I never received your email or got your voicemail when those messages really were received;
and I'll get back to you when the person really has no intention of following-up with you.

You might also be interested in knowing what are some of the best ways to determine whether someone is lying to you.

Watch their eyes (this is a classic observation that we all learned as little children). Most liars, at least the casual ones, will have trouble making full and continual eye contact when lying.

Also, take note of details and inconsistencies as a lie unfolds. Usually, the typical office liar works on instinct, rather than completely planning a lie. Which means if you're not sure they're telling the truth you might ask them to elaborate, watching for them to stumble.

And, be aware of fidgety behavior. Even though you may think some people you know are pathological liars, the fact is that most people are not entirely comfortable when lying, even when telling half-truths. Look for squirming behavior, or rapid tapping of a foot, or uneasiness about to do with ones hands (such as sliding hands in and out of pockets, flipping hair constantly with fingers, or scratching).