Jul 14

Career Corner: Are you Honest at Work?

by Downtown Calgary · 0 comments


Have you ever lied at work? Do you tell half-truths to get the sale or job? Would you lie to a demanding boss to protect family time?

Check your Lie Quotient

Answer “yes” or “no:

  1. I’ve lied on my resume or fudged reports
  2. I’ll fib to avoid arguments
  3. I fail to disclose pertinent information
  4. I’ve cheated on school or employment tests
  5. I’d tell a face-saving lie to protect my career
  6. I exaggerate the truth or tell white lies to avoid hurting someone
  7. I lie to better serve clients or employer
  8. I’ve stolen office supplies or padded expense accounts
  9. I’ve copied software or used the Internet on company time
  10. I call in sick when I’m not

Scoring: One point for each “yes.” 7 or higher suggests you could enhance honesty.

Lying is stressful, and stress harms health and accelerates aging. Frequent lying and fear of exposure keeps your body’s “fight or flight” response on. Long term activation of this system may result in health conditions like heart disease.

The Pinocchio Effect also kicks in when you lie. The temperature in the muscles around the nose becomes hotter, according to Emilio Milán and Elvira López at the University of Granada. There is corresponding action in the insular cortex of the brain which controls emotions. Fear of being caught in a lie increases activity in the insular cortex, leading to more heat emanating from the nose. The researchers call this the Pinocchio effect. In Walt Disney’s Pinocchio, the boy puppet’s lies are revealed whenever his wooden nose grows.

Lying damages a person’s self respect and credibility. Dishonesty also affects company productivity. Using company time and stealing small items add up. Honest employees pay for others’ lack of integrity through stricter rules.

Why people lie

We learn to lie. Many children don’t view cheating on exams as theft because some schools fail to show disapproval of students’ cheating. The same message is given when parents cheat on taxes. Children learn all methods for achieving goals are justified.

We fib because we need to appear competent, want to avoid hurt or conflict, desire to protect our jobs, or not rock the boat. Some workers may lie about a sick child to protect themselves from taking another business trip.

Political and business leaders have lied for centuries. Recent studies conducted by Paul Piff, social psychologist, at the University of California, Berkeley, found that self-interests tend to spur the elite to lie and cheat.

Honesty is the best policy. If I lose mine honor, I lose myself.” William Shakespeare

- Speak cautiously. Exaggerating your ability to meet expectations will hurt your status and your business more than being honest up front. Truth and trust go together.

- Communicate accurately, openly, and transparently. Be explicit, direct, and clear about your motives. State what you need or expect.

- Shift mindset. Lying is a learned survival strategy that can be unlearned. Note what triggers your decision to lie. What fear (e.g., being wrong, hurting someone) is behind this choice? Why do you believe the lie will have a better outcome, and for whom? Reflect on your answers to uncover your motivation.

When you sense yourself crafting a lie, ask yourself. “What’s the worst that can happen if I tell the truth?”

Additional ways of enhancing honesty are described in Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life: www.questerdaretochange.com

Editor’s note: this has been a guest blog post by Dr. Carole Kanchier she is a career and personal growth expert, is author of the award-winning, groundbreaking book, Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life (2014). Visit her website: www.questersdaretochange.com or send her an email: [email protected]


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