Being Lied To At Work

259010_pinocchio What do you do when a co-worker or employee lies to you?  At first you are usually a bit taken back in disbelief that they have actually lied and you ask yourself “did I just hear what I thought I heard?”

Once you have gotten over the initial shock that you have been lied to( if you can)  you need to make sure that you do not over-react.  Immediately  ask them to repeat what they said so you can make sure you have heard correctly, and if you did, do not say anything until you have had time to really think the situation through (unless someone is in danger, you can take a little time to think things through).

It is sad to say but “white lies” have become a common part of what takes place in society today, but this does not mean that you need to just let them slide, especially when ethics and integrity play a large part in your business environment.

If you are correct in what you heard and it was a lie, then you need to think about what may have caused this person to react by not telling the truth, put yourself, if you can, in their position and ponder why would you say what they said.  By taking this time you also will clam down and be able to think clearer and that will allow you to speak clearer when you confront the person.

It will help if you can tell the person whom you need to confront that you need to talk to them about what they said about “———–.”  This will let the person know you want to talk to them about what they said and give them time to prepare.  When the actual confrontation takes place make sure that you are not in “attack mode” remember you are trying to find out why they lied, work through it, and move forward, so keep your cool (your blood pressure will thank you).

When you meet tell them what they said, why you believe this is not true, and ask them to help you understand why it happened.  Many times the person being confronted, knowing what they were going to be confronted with, will already be ready to apologize or explain why they did it. This is great, it is done deal, slap on the hand and move along (especially if this is a first offense and it is something minor).

If this is not the case then they may add lies on top of the lie and make matters worse or just stick to the one lie and not budge.  No matter which of the last two you encounter, you need to address it with whatever office polices are in place regarding “speaking the truth”, ethics and integrity in the office.

Make your encounter a teachable experience for all parties, but also let them know that dishonesty is not acceptable and will be dealt with because a team cannot work to the highest standards if each of its members does not play by the highest standards.

No supervisor wants to deal with these types of issues, but if you do not you will be dealing with much larger ones.  Put out the little fires before they burn down the forest.

How do you deal with lies in the workplace?

Oh what if it is the manager who lies?  (another post altogether)

Don’t tell lies


3 thoughts on “Being Lied To At Work

  1. It is a hard question to answer as there are a lot of variables involved, but your advice is spot on. Wait until you are calm, see if you can determine their rationale, then address the issue. I have fired people for telling just one lie. It just depends on the severity of it and the situation. If the manager is the problem, then it must be dealt with very swiftly but it is very hard to regain the trust of your employees once you have violated it. Don’t depend on second chances as everyone may not give you one.

  2. I catch my boss in lies all the time. Worse, he makes us employees lie to vendors, suppliers, clients, and sometimes other employees. This is not unusual in my experience. When I was a manager at a company, I was told by higher-up executives to basically lie to my department about any number of things. Why is this acceptable and just considered a part of doing business, but not acceptable if a lowly employee does it?

    Seems to be quite a double-standard in the executive suites.

    • I can understand where you are coming from. In our office several years ago our boss asked to tell some little white lies (if there is such a thing) and after this happened a few times we (the staff) asked to meet with him and told him that we would not do this anymore, that when something was done wrong or we let it fall through the cracks we were going to own up to it and tell the truth. He totally agreed (he did not have much choice) and from that day on we are always honest. It is too bad that many executives feel this is acceptable. It says volumes of their ethical standards. Thank you for your comment, and I hope to hear more from you.

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