Business Etiquette / Cross Cultural Differences / Managing People / Next Gen / Sell Yourself / Selling Skills


I was asked this week, what my thoughts were on the topic of ‘is it OK to lie at work?’

In all my years in business, teachings, trainings and coaching, honesty has always the best policy. Small, white lies, turn into bigger lies and it’s a fulltime job just to keep covering up the original story. Sometimes we think it’s ok to tell this one small lie, but in time it becomes a mammoth task just to remember what the lie was and about to begin with.

Bec, do workplace leaders have more license to lie at work?

“Treat others as you want to be treated” if a leader feels it’s appropriate to lie to their workers or customers, then please expect the favour to be returned. In business, I know it might seem easy to ‘cover the truth’ and maybe not tell the customer the whole truth about a situation you may have, but these days our customers are more savvy than ever before, we’ve educated them more than ever. They’ll find the truth out eventually, and when they do, you won’t want to be around.

Is it ok to lie to save people’s feelings?

No, it’s still not ok to lie to save someone’s feelings, but you can choose the words you use to help the person from your blatant cold-hard honesty. Below I’ll share some ways to help delicately deliver the truth.

If someone asks me if I like something about them personally, when I don’t, I always start my answer with, “I think you know me well enough by now to know that I’m not going to say things that I think you want to hear…” I then get their acceptance to hear what I’m about to deliver. If I don’t get their acceptance, I won’t deliver the truthful message.

If it’s not ok to lie, what are some phrases people can use to delicately deliver the truth?

There’s many great tricks people have to deliver the truth, even if the truth might hurt, and different situations call for different techniques. Here’s just a few of mine:

  1. If I was to tell someone that I wasn’t the right person for the job they were wanting me to do, instead of telling them I didn’t want to do it, I would reply with“I’m not the expert in this field, let me introduce you to ……”
  2. If someone asked my opinion on a subject with pricing and I was against the pricing module, I’d concentrate on starting at the product, and getting the person to start telling me the Features and Benefits then while we are discussing this, start to get them to rework a pricing structure around it.
  3. If someone asked me if they looked nice in what they were wearing, when it wasn’t faltering at all, my reply would be
    “Remember last week, when you wore the Black and White ensemble, it really made you look more xxxx than this one. I really loved it!” You don’t have to tell them they look bad now, just show them ways that they looked better previously.

My policy is, if you don’t want the truth, please don’t ask me…