Business Lies– Deception, Deceit, Untruths, Fibs: CEOs Do it, Workers Do It, Customers Do It, Men Do It, Women Do It– Lairs….

Lying in business is an essential; businesses cannot function without telling lies… Lying produces results; whether bolstering a personal credential or developing a sales pitch– business people lie because it works– lying in business is the rule; and not the exception… Most business people know that lying is unethical, immoral, even criminal, but they do it any way because it’s easy…

As we all know, lies are not all the same; some lies are harmless and even helpful, and other lies are harmful and very hurtful… Yet, once you have experienced the utility of a ‘lie’, it becomes a useful ‘tool’… But, the psychology of lying is complex; people lie for many reasons and chances are that many people tell same lies to different people for different reasons, for example:

Some people lie to avoid conflict: Faced with unrealistic deadlines and a demanding boss, some individuals would rather lie than address a difficult issue where anger, frustration, and disapproval will create conflict… Some people lie to save face and please other people: They figure lying will allow them to look better at least temporarily.

The problem is that it generally takes 4-lies to cover 1-lie… Some people lie to sell more stuff: There actions are evasive, deceitful, and they view a business transaction as a trophy… The worst lies are the ones where a person will intentionally withhold significant information or changes facts: With practice, this form of lying looks very much like the truth. We know that the more someone lies and succeeds, the better they become at it… In many modern business workplaces, the normal indicators of truthfulness just aren’t there anymore when dealing with an adept liar.

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According to Webster dictionary; a lie is ‘to make a statement that one knows to be false, especially with the intent to deceive’, or ‘to give a false impression’ According to Leanne Hoagland-Smith; regardless if it’s a C-Level executive leader, or manager, or worker… everyone must be held to the same standards… Too often, many business people have the attitudes of–  ‘wink and nod’ or ‘do as I say and not as I do’… But, if you are looking to build a workplace that consistently demonstrates high ethics, then everyone must accept the same definition of a lie…

According to Edmund Burke; lies transform themselves into mis-representations of the truth… now is the time for good people to call lies exactly what they are– lies… And to call people who speak lies– liars. Until we take these actions, evil (and a lie is evil) will continue to prevail…

According to Bella DePaulo; most people lie at least once or twice a day– almost as often as they snack from the refrigerator or brush their teeth… Both men and women lie in approximately a fifth of their social exchanges lasting 10 or more minutes; over the course of a week they deceive about 30% of those with whom they interact one-on-one. Also, there are some types of relationships, such as; between managers and workers that are virtual magnets for deception…

Certainly anyone who insists on condemning all lies could only imagine a better workplace when it’s purged of the all deceptions, and thus enabling genuine and honest communications… On other hand, perhaps some businesses would collapse under the weight of relentless honesty, with unveiled truths destroying the ability to connect with others. The ubiquity of lying is clearly a problem, but is business prepared to take away all lies? Let’s be honest…

What is the truth about lying? According to Tm Mazur: The noted philosopher Immanuel Kant said that lying was always morally wrong. He argued that all persons are born with a ‘intrinsic worth’ that he called human dignity. This dignity derives from the fact that humans are uniquely rational agents, capable of freely making their own decisions, setting their own goals, and guiding their conduct by reason. To be human is to have the rational power of free choice; to be ethical is to respect the power in oneself and others…

Lies are morally wrong for 2-reasons: First, lying corrupts most important quality of being human: the ability to make free, rational choices. Each lie told contradicts your moral worth. Second, lies rob others of their freedom to choose, rationally. When a lie leads people to decide in ways other than the way they would had they known the truth, you harm their human dignity… Kant believed that in order to value ourselves and others… we must avoid damaging, interfering with, or misusing our ability to make free decisions, in other words: No lying.

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In the article Right, Wrong Way to Lie in Business by Michael  Church writes: Lies, even ethical ones, can be corrosive to most relationships. Most people have a visceral aversion to being lied to. When you lie to someone, you’re making the statement that you don’t believe person can be trusted with the truth… Lying to someone is corrosive because people take it personally. This means that, when you lie, you must be comfortable telling the lie to everyone, and moreover, you must act as if the lie was true.

There’s a saying in creative writing, which is most often applied to poets, and it says; the bad ones borrow and the good ones steal… and, a similar rule applies to lying in business; steal but don’t borrow… If you’re going to lie about something, then you must be prepared to continue lying about it for ever… that means if you’re going to use a lie– you must own it… That restricts the scope of what one can lie about, which is generally a good thing. Lying is a surgical art, for example; you must never lie about something that contradicts an objective ‘fact’, for example; don’t cook ‘the books’ since you will probably get caught…

In the article Lies, Damned Lies in Business by Neil writes: Business is full of lies: Sometimes the lies are big, sometimes the lies are small. Sometimes the lies are inconsequential and sometimes they rock the foundations of the business world. But like urban myth– you’re never more than 8 foot from a rat; and in business– you’re never more than one cubicle away from a lie…

Consider: Is it a coincidence that so many public companies come within their stated profit targets every year? When a business over-performs, it run the risk of raising expectations for future years, when it under-perform, it runs the risk of the share price being devalued, and people’s jobs also might be at risk…

Hence, a business common practice is to release provision in a bad year to bolster the bottom-line, or take bad news in a good year to manage down profits… but are these practices really lies? Well some people might say yes, in the truest sense of the word. But, since the practice is universally accepted, the issue of a ‘lie’ is ignored…

The language of business is a weasel mix of truth and lies, but it isn’t any different from any other part of society… It’s very easy for the press, for the public, for the politicians to highlight individual failings and to find a helpful scapegoat… Hence, business must not be held to any higher moral standard than we would hold anyone else. We must not confuse profit-making with profiteering, we must not engage in duality or assertions of duplicity. We must be open and honest about all human imperfections… 

Lies are an everyday part of business life and in covering over this fact we are reasserting its veracity… And we rationalize the use of lies by saying; business needs lies to survive; it needs lies to maintain balance, it needs lies to underpin existence. Like in social life; like in sport, like in the church… sometimes a lie is so big, so grave that it causes serious– damage, hurt… Business is full of lies: Yes, guilty as charged, but lets face it– so is most other parts of human existence…

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Stretching the truth is a natural component of human instinct since it’s an easy way out… According to John Seeley; all good relationships are based on trust… but sometimes ‘white lie’ may make sense, if it avoids hurting someone else, and maybe it’s better than being fully honest; after all, honesty without compassion is cruelty. 

According to Leona Charles; sometimes a ‘sweet lie’ feels better than a ‘hard truth’ but in business it’s supposed to be all about facts. In a world where perception can be skewed as quickly as a tweet is posted, how can you make sure that your business is telling the hard truth all of the time? The truth is that you can’t, but you can instill a culture in your company that is based on doing the right thing, no matter how hard it is… 

According to Linda Finkle; each of us has our own sense of what is right and wrong; what’s a lie and what is not… If a person is asked this question, most people would probably answer– ‘it depends’… It depends on the nature of the lie, for example; Is there ever a time when a ‘lie of omission’ is really not a lie? Are ‘white lies’ still lies? Here people differ; sometimes these ‘pseudo-lies’ (if there is such a thing) are hurtful, and other times they don’t make any difference at all– some people say; no harm, no lie… 

According to Edward Marshall; perhaps it’s a sign of the times but we seem to be living in an age when lies and deceit are commonplace in every aspect of our lives… Most of us were taught from a very young age to tell the truth, no matter what. We know it’s the right thing to do, but these days it’s hard. It’s not that people are deliberately dishonest. Rather, we live in a culture that, over many years, has made it much easier for some to lie and get away with it…

Perhaps ‘the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth’ has become a relic of a bygone era. Perhaps it doesn’t matter that much anymore. Perhaps we don’t even know what the truth is. It seems like leaders in all aspects of our lives, including the workplace, are lying these days– and getting away with it…. Perhaps it’s time to create a different culture, at least in the workplace…