Every year, I like to find a different way of celebrating my favorite day: my birthday. Since I am turning 32 next month (I know…awww…), I’ve decided to share 32 revelations I have had during the course of my life about everything from life in general to business. Think of it as daily inspiration for you and therapy for me. It is a challenge for me, because I don’t think I have ever published a post everyday in the entire existence of The Aristocracy of HR. Plus, I recognize that while I am fairly generous in sharing on social media and here, I have only just scraped the surface on sharing who I am when I’m not pontificating how HR and Business can do better. Let’s use the month of March to get to know one another better. I hope at the end of the month, you walk away with something you can use in your own life or business.
Day 6 of 31- Dishonesty
When I look around I see a barrage of lies at every turn. I don’t know if people are lying more now or if it happened more before my time, but it seems to be a societal epidemic. If it’s not Brian Williams fudging the truth about being in a helicopter that was shot down during the 2003 Iraq invasion- it is the stories like something I heard this morning about a woman who claimed to be raped by a black man. She made the claim and hours later recanted stating that she was not raped by a black man and doesn’t know why she lied. We have attention-obsessed people buying followers on Twitter to make it appear that they are more popular and well-known than they are. There are those on LinkedIn skewing their experience to be seen as experts or more credible in their industries. Don’t get me started on those in business-particularly at the top. People lie. Sometimes it’s harmless and other times harmful.
Think I am just blowing hot air? According to a study conducted by Mattitiyahu Zimbler and Robert S. Feldman of the University of Massachusetts, 49% of leaders felt it was occasionally necessary to lie during a business negotiation. How does that make you feel going into your next business negotiation? It seems the truth is no longer a societal and business imperative, but instead an accessory that we adorn ourselves with when we choose.
As a society we have decided that there is a convenient time and place for truth. Some will contend that there are instances where withholding the truth is beneficial to a person or group of people. For instance, heads of states don’t report every threat that they receive to the public. To do so, serves no purpose for them and as for society they would be creating chaos and speculation for nothing. Instead, they often report the threats that are credible and pose imminent danger to the public. Is this dishonest? Well yes, telling the truth would mean they would tell us everything in the moment as it happens. When I worked in Corporate America, it seemed dishonesty was rampant. Leadership would say there was no money for raises, but you would find out Jim and Jennie got bumped up $10,000. There would be whispers of a layoff and if you asked anyone in leadership they would say “no”-only to have a memo about a reduction-in-force sent to all employees several weeks down the line.
In my humble opinion, people should be upfront and truthful with one another. For some people, knowing that others lie to get ahead creates a false sense that they should do the same. This leads to people being leery of anyone or anything prior to evaluating it for credibility and validity.
My real issue is with deception. Deception is quite different from lying. It is defined as a deliberate withholding of information, so that the full truth of something is not revealed. In the case of Brian Williams, the issue is he has been entrusted to report the facts as a journalist. Secondly, the 2003 Iraq Invasion is a sore spot. Many families lost loved ones and we are all still paying for its enormous price tag. Given all of these facts, it was incredibly irresponsible and inconsiderate of him to make the claim he did. With the 20-year-old white woman who claimed to be raped by black man, not only did she waste police resources that could have been used elsewhere- she could have sent an innocent person to jail with her stupidity. In both cases, there was an intention to deceive others. Perhaps, some subconscious want to be revered and/or pitied was at play as well. It just seems to me that there should be repercussions to deceit.
None of us are perfect. I believe being deceitful or telling half-truths should not be part our moral fiber. I don’t wake up every morning conjuring up ways that I can lie to get ahead in life or business. Ultimately, I understand that anything I stand to earn while lying about my capabilities would be rewarded only in the short-term. I’m not sure what should become of Brian Williams or this woman, but I know that the old saying: what’s done in the dark, eventually comes to light is true. I just wished more people realized it and attempted to live with more integrity than what I see going on.
Czarina’s Lesson: True longevity and trust comes when you serve up the real deal.