Your name is Sam. It’s 10AM and you have just arrived at work on a bright Thursday morning. You sit down in your office, pull up your email, and the first message has the headline: [URGENT] Dapperson File Requested. Your heart starts beating faster, you start to sweat, and your palms feel clammy as you realize you never sent in the Dapperson File yesterday. You knew it was due today before you walked into your office. You knew that your team asked you to turn it in because you’re reliable. Most importantly, you knew that this was not good. Luckily, you have an ace up your sleeve: You can lie.
With so many different options of what lies to tell, it can be hard to choose just one. Maybe you sent it in and your boss just never received it? No, technology is not your friend right now.
Perhaps you can say Cheryl from accounting was supposed to turn it in – she’s pretty forgetful, right? No, folks will ask why you trusted Cheryl when everyone knows she’s forgetful.
Okay, okay. How about the “I forgot to press send” button? Really? Let’s not go down that route.
Here’s the thing: your name is probably not Sam. However, you can probably relate with part, if not all of what happened to Sam on Thursday morning. When things go wrong, we don’t always know what the best move to make is, or even what that next move can be, so at times we lie. Lying, after all, can do things like buy us time to figure out our game plan. While lying can both shift the blame or the focus off of us and feel like it’s much easier than telling the truth, there are at least three reasons why you should resist the temptation to lie:
1. It Takes A Lot To Keep A Lie Going
Have you tried lying before? I’m sure you have, as most people have told a few lies before in the life, but have you tried to keep one going? Lying can take a lot of time, energy, and effort. Take Sam’s situation. What if Sam blamed Cheryl? If Sam’s supervisor reached out to her, Sam would have to think up another lie to convince Cheryl their conversation happened. Lies are fragile things that need constant attention and support. If you forget to care for them, they fall apart. Once that happens, you only look worse for failing to uphold your responsibilities and lying about them.
2. Lying Destroys Trust
Relationships are built on a lot of things: mutual interests/needs, shared values, and even convenience are a few, but the one that ties it all together is trust. If someone can’t trust you, then they will never feel like they are able to confide in you, believe in you, and maybe most importantly as a leader, rely on you. In the corporate world and the public sector, CEOs, CFOs, directors, program coordinators, you name it, these folks will always tell you that the foundation of a solid team is trust. How can we expect our followers to believe in our vision, to believe in our mission, if they cannot even believe in us? As a famous artist once said “Trust is like a mirror. You can fix it if it’s broke, but you will always see the cracks in that… reflection”
3. Lying Is Bad For Your Health
Was that a curve ball for some of you? If so, I’m sorry (well, not so sorry) to say it’s true – lying can be bad for your health. Remember reason 1? The energy and effort required to lie places undue stress on the brain and the rest of the body. When we’re confronted with the lie, our brain begins to release chemicals to calm down our body & come up with other lies. Stress, as we know, contributes to illness, early aging, and irritability. So, not only are you a liar, but you are also sacrificing your health to keep up a facade that wasn’t worth putting up to begin with. When they say “The truth will set you free,” it’s more than just a saying, it’s a fact.
If you can resist the temptations listed above, you will be well on your way to being a stronger and more effective leader. Don’t get me wrong, people lie every day and I don’t believe it’s impossible to quite lying all together. However, I do think that we should all make conscious efforts be our true authentic selves as often as we can. Leadership is a process. Holding ourselves accountable and allowing others to do the same can be difficult, but it will make you a better person and a better leader in the end.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dan Erosa completed his undergraduate degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a Bachelor’s in Psychology, a Bachelor’s in Sociology, and completed his Master’s Degree in Higher Education & Student Affairs at New York University.
Dan previously worked at Stevens Institute of Technology as a Program Coordinator and as a Residence Director. Dan currently works at New York University as the Residence Hall Assistant Director for the Alumni and Seventh Street Halls.
Dan is passionate about cultivating growth within others through leadership development, career development, and helping others reach their highest potential. You can reach Dan via email at Dan.Erosa@nyu.edu with any questions you may have.