Everybody does it, a little white lie here – a simple not quite the truth there. How important is telling the truth in the workplace? Does the size of the lie matter? When is it important to tell the truth? There are so many questions we ask ourselves on a daily basis when it comes to decision making and trying to figure out the best path to follow. Many times it comes down to this, if you knew you would never get caught – would you lie?
There is no one area in the workplace where lies are more prevalent then others. A mistake on a project, a fabricated resume – it all boils down to the same thing, lying is never a good thing - including lying by omission. A simple mistake on a project can cost the company money, customers and in some cases even lives.
Take, for example, an engineer that committed the simple mistake of transposing two numbers on building plans. Simple enough right? What if those numbers were the difference between a completely safe building and an error that could snowball into a collapsed building? While it would be infinitely easier to not own up to a small calculation error, imagine the magnitude of damage this lie or omission could cause.
Many times employees lie due to fear of retribution. It’s easier to not own up to the mistake rather then face their supervisor with yet another error. Blaming the error on a system glitch or another co-worker would probably be easier. The problem is what happens once the supervisor finds out that you lied about the error? Chances are trust is pretty much gone. Once your integrity is questioned, it’s hard to win back the trust of your supervisor and peers.
Most of us remember the cliché, “if you can’t say anything nice…” This would hold well in the workplace as well. Imagine you just told your co-worker that you thought she looked stunning in her new outfit. Did you really think it was all that awesome? Consider how hurt her feelings would be if she overheard you telling a different story to another co-worker later in the day. In fact, you hated the outfit and thought it was totally unflattering to her figure. You probably didn’t think that little white lie could hurt, but it did.
No matter how you tell it, no matter the spin you put on it - a lie is a lie. Even a small lie can have an unimaginable impact. There is always one question that you should ask yourself - if found out, would the repercussions be worth it? If it made the newspapers, would it be alright for the world to see.