Lying and Distrust
The nurse instructed me to take over-the-counter iron supplements. I asked what dosage and she replied, "Iron only comes in one strength. Take one pill a day." The pharmacy shelves disagree. I found at least four strengths, ranging from 16 mg to 65 mg.
Lying is in our nature. Don't believe that? Watch a small child when he's caught doing wrong. No one has to tell him to lie. No one presents him with options. He just opens his mouth, and a lie pops out.
Even as adults, when confronted with an unpleasant reality, lying is our default. We tell white lies to protect friends' feelings. If we could stop lying just to ourselves, we'd acknowledge those white lies are actually to protect us from the uncomfortableness of speaking the truth.
Just like children, we lie to keep from getting in trouble -- with our bosses, spouses or friends. We rationalize that a little lie is easier than the scuffle that will follow the truth. And, what does it really matter anyway?
We lie to protect our egos, favoring pride above all else. For some, admitting ignorance is unthinkable. Undoubtedly, this was the case for the nurse in the opening paragraph. No one knows everything. For me, being discovered a fool is incentive enough not to fabricate an answer. The nurse proves that incentive is not universal.
Here's another incentive: Lies lead to distrust; both can harm your client. If you lie to a client and the client finds out, you have lost his trust. If you are in the medical profession, that mistrust -- as well as the original lie -- could put your clients' health at risk. If you are in another occupation, your lies, and your clients' resulting distrust, could endanger your clients in other ways.
Admitting ignorance is honorable. If a client asks you a question that you don't know the answer to, simply say, "I don't know. Let me look into that and get back with you."
Have you lost a client's trust because of a lie? How do you rebuild trust?