Can You Base Your Career On A Little White Lie?

I just read a post by Nicole Williams at the Huffington Post entitled Five Lies You Should Tell Your Boss. According to Nicole, the five times it's OK to lie are:

  1. When they ask what you're worth.
  2. When they ask what your future plans are.
  3. When they ask about your experience.
  4. When they ask about your health.
  5. When you're late.

The underlying (pun intended) thread of the conversation relates to how it's acceptable to lie when it's in your best interest. Therefore, you can be the judge.  It may be in your best interest to pad your preferred pay.  It may be in your best interest to mislead them about your future plans, or your experience or your health if you think that may not be what they want to hear.  She is "giving you permission to lie about" these things when you feel it's in your best interest.

This brings up several interesting questions.  I'd like to know your questions and responses below too.  The questions that come to mind for me are:

  1. Would you feel alright if your employer lied to you if they felt like it was in their best interest?  Whenever issues of integrity pop up, my standard of measurement is always the other party's perspective.  Would you appreciate it if your employer lied to you about how long they intended to employ you or how much they intended to pay you?
  2. Would you follow a leader that lied to their leaders or followers in this manner?  Same idea, flip the situation and see if this were your ideal situation.
  3. Would you prefer someone who knew the truth and hired you anyway?  If so, how will you ever know if you're working for someone like that unless you tell them the truth, even when it comes to why you missed an important meeting?
  4. Is there an acceptable excuse for lying?  Her argument for allowing us to lie when we're late to a meeting suggests there are some excuses that are better than others.  Don't we all want team members that own their actions rather than blaming circumstances?  Which circumstances are acceptable, traffic, flight delay, sick child?  Why not take responsibility for your own actions and hope to find an employer that appreciated that?

I can't tell you that I have always told the truth.  I'm often tempted to lie.  When someone lies, they do it because of fear.  I used to say the only acceptable lies are when someone asks you if they're pretty or thin.  But in reality, my own faults not excepted, there are no acceptable lies because a fear based life makes us selfish and empty.  It takes courage to tell the truth and our world needs courage more today than in recent memory.  So it's my plan to not lie, period.  I'm not perfect, and there are times when I might even actually compromise, but my intention is to start things right or make it right.  I'd like to live a fearless life and be a man of truth.  I'm surely not going to plan to lie or accept the compromise with fear in my life.  I don't want to lie.

Fortunately, I'm not the sheriff.  It's not my job to enforce that rule for anyone but myself.  However I hope that my friends, vendors, employees, employers, customers, and connections would see me as someone to whom they can tell the truth.  I hope that my friends know that my relationship with them is bigger than the consequences of whatever they may tell me that I don't want to know.

What about you?  Do you think I'm a lunatic?  Do you believe that the end justifies the means?  Please keep the comments clean, without insult or personal offense and I'll post them.  Would you rather someone had the courage to tell you the truth? Or would you rather have relationships based on uncertainty?

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