Liars At Work
There are two ways to take this blog: liars AT WORK, meaning colleagues who do their work by lying about it; LIARS at work, meaning those who fib regardless. Fibbers range from exaggerators (their parties are the best, their kids are the brightest, they save the most money, etc.) to pathological (I’m late again because I just barely missed hitting a moose for the third time this week, etc.).
We all fib, much of the time for attention or to save feelings. Let’s face it, many stories are more interesting if embellished a little. We all love a good tall tale and even more our feelings being spared.
But the former -- those who lie routinely to get their job done -- are dangerous, because they lack professional integrity. If, for example, a tech lies about checking quality control, reading a label, or using the last of a reagent, what else is he lying about? Techs who cover up mistakes, lie about performance, or blame others can’t be trusted. They can also be difficult to catch.
To catch a liar, one communications firm executive recommends asking questions that are hard to answer while avoiding accusing the person directly. It’s possible the person misspoke or was misunderstood. Also, liars at work tend to behave the same as liars anywhere else: they avoid eye contact, squirm, look for an exit, and use vague qualifiers like “that” and “they.”
Ok, sure. But forget catching your boss, a doctor, or an administrator. People who can’t be trusted or believed are nightmares to work for.
Most disturbing is a culture of dishonesty that permits liars to flourish at all. Such an environment ignores or rewards falsehoods and distortions, sending the worst possible message to employees. These Potemkin cultures are survivalist, forcing otherwise honest people to lie and cheat just to keep a job, justifying behavior so long as patients still receive good care.
But do patients receive good care in a culture of liars? We’ll never know.
NEXT: Tell the Truth