Do You Lie at Work?

BlogHer Original Post

Do you tell little (or maybe big) lies at work? Now, don't lie to make yourself feel better!

As I was reading the article "Liar, Liar, Pantsuit on Fire!" from Success Magazine, I was a bit surprised by the results of their survey of more than 1,200 American workers. We all know small lies happen, but some of the nuanced answers were amusing and telling. Such as:

So to tease some more nuanced answers out of our survey respondents, we followed each “Have you ever lied about…?” question with a “Have you ever known anyone who lied about…?” query. Not surprisingly, the “yes” responses to the latter question were, across the board, significantly higher than to the former. For example, only 8 percent of respondents said they’d ever accepted praise for a workplace idea or accomplishment that wasn’t theirs, but a whopping 60 percent have known someone guilty of such credit theft.

How is it possible that we all know someone who has lied when none of us are doing the lying?

Because it's always "someone else" who is doing the lying, right? Now to be fair, the article measures everything from little white lies such as bending the truth on the status of something you're working on to big honking lies like blaming an outside person for a major company snafu. So if you've taken some paper clips from the office storage cabinet for your kid's school project, you'd be someone who lied at work. Same goes for the CEO who blames and lets someone else take the fall for a major gaffe. Not all lies have the same impact, but is it OK to lie at work?

Have You Lied at Work?

Image: Who killed Gregory?? via Flickr

In this article from a professional HR organization, apparently lying is on the rise:

‘Leading through fear creates a lying culture’, warns expert 

Ninety-two per cent of HR professionals think they are lied to every week, according to an exclusive survey by People Management.

In PM’s online poll of 820 HR people, almost a third believed that they were being told more lies than two or three years ago, while staff in sectors such as travel and construction were flagged as the least trustworthy.

Who doesn't feel more "justified" about lying when the culture at a company is poor. When people feel threatened (management by fear), hopeless, or unimportant they are more likely to want to take the matter of getting what they feel they deserve into their own hands. Whether that is "borrowing" office supplies, calling in sick when they are not, or bending the truth about a work project.

All the lies told at work are not necessarily of the negative kind. Considering exaggerating, flattering, or other niceities that are a little rosier than the truth. Carol Kinsey Goman writes in this article "When Is It OK to Tell Lies at Work" :

As background for my new book, “The Truth About Lies in the Workplace: How to Spot Liars and How to Deal with Them,” I surveyed 547 business professionals about a variety of workplace deception issues. When I asked if it was ever okay to lie at work, I found that most people said “yes!” – under some circumstances.

You can read the top 7 circumstances in the rest of the article.

So, what do you think? Is it OK to lie at work? And, if so, under what circumstances? Have you ever lied at work (and would you admit it)?


Paula Gregorowicz plucks women business owners off the hamster wheel of overwhelm, struggle, and self-doubt and guides them to a purposeful path of building authentic and successful businesses using a unique blend of practical action and inner awareness called Intuitive Intelligence®.
Download the Free Recording: Price with Confidence & Get Paid What You're Worth at http://www.thepaulagcompany.com.

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