This past winter, Robert A. McDonald, the Secretary of Veteran Affairs, mention to a homeless guy, on video, that he was in Special Forces. The problem was that he was not in Special Forces. You would think it was a big lie, but if you watch the video, he was trying to help out the homeless veteran to raise his spirits. Instead of praising McDonald of helping out, he got vilified for telling a “white lie” to the homeless veteran. Why the initial anger of the lie? We’re worried about what’s might happen next.
I have mentioned before that lying is prevalent in business. What most people have issue of lying is if the lying benefits themselves and not for the others. You can tell if they’re lying either for themselves or for others. For example, people taking credit of the work when it was a team effort, a promotion they don’t deserve, a pay raise they don’t deserve. These are tangible things we can see in the workplace. We don’t say anything because if you open Pandora’s Box, you could set off a ton of negative consequences to everyone in the company. Some might think you did the right thing, while others think you did a selfish thing (notice I didn’t say the “wrong thing”).
So why are we focus on the truth so much? For most, the truth gives finality not only to the situation, but we think it discloses who the person really is. That might be true, but each person has different layers of why they do it. It could be for more money, to pay off bills, to pay for a wedding, for healthcare purposes, any reason that drives them to embellish. The problem is we want the liar to admit guilt and feel sorry about the people who worked hard, but can’t advance up the chain and get severely punish for their actions. Does that improve the situation? It depends; you make changes to be transparent and honest, but what does it do in the long run? You might have a better reputation as an ethical company, but what has it done in innovation or sales?
Here’s the irony of this: sometimes we embellish that later, it becomes true. We tell fairy tales and stories like Santa Claus to believe they exist. We know, as adults, they do not exist, but seeing kids doing nice things to others because of Santa or other fairy tales they been told, they try to be on their best behavior. Is that the end result we want is for the kids to be happy or joyful?
Sometimes those lies could become real-life true stories. If it weren’t for science fiction, would we have the gadgets that we have today? If it were not for comic books, would we not have athletes be bigger, faster and stronger…and actually become superheroes?
We seek truth because we want to know why the process or decision is unfair. Everyone has their own “truth” but it’s important your “truth” is beneficial for others. I’m not saying you should lie every time, but if you have lie or embellish, do it that benefit others and there is still a fairy tale ending in waiting.