“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
Lies are lies. If it’s not the truth it’s a lie, no matter how much you want to believe it. When you tell a lie you damage your credibility, credibility that you need in order to lead.
Let’s begin with some incredible research findings about deception.
- Humans are lied to as many as 200 times a day.
- Humans detect lies with only 54% accuracy.
- Of the lies we tell 25% are for someone else’s sake.
- Children begin deceiving as early as 6 months of age.
- Avoiding eye contact is the most presumed sign of lying around the world—even though it’s false.
- People engaged in normal honest conversation only make direct eye contact 30-60% of the time.
- Law enforcement officials—including FBI agents, customs agents and judges— performed no better than the average person in detecting deception.
The research suggests it’s harder to tell when someone is lying than we think it is and that around half the lies told go undetected.
That’s all kinda bad news but it pales in comparison to this absolute truth: the lies we tell ourselves do immeasurably more harm to our ability to lead than the lies we tell others. That’s true because when we lie to ourselves, when we convince ourselves that fiction is fact, we will surely share that lie with others.
Once you master lying to yourself you will lie to anyone, whether you intend to or not. You actually can become unsure of what the truth really is. It is possible that you don’t even consider an untruth to be a lie. Deception simply becomes a tool you use to manipulate others.
Leading people has nothing to do with manipulating them. Leading requires a relationship of sorts between the leader and the follower. When people feel manipulated they do not trust the manipulator. Absent trust, there can be no relationship.
Not only does lying damage the ability of others to trust you, it damages YOUR ability to trust others. People who are untrustworthy have major issues trusting other people too.
The people you lead NEED to know they can believe what you say. They need to know that they can trust you. Once, yes once, you’re caught in a lie you make it much harder for your people to follow you.
But I’m betting that you don’t consider yourself a liar. You’re an honest person who maybe just “withholds some details,” or doesn’t exactly tell the “whole truth” in order to allow someone to save face.
I get that but here’s what you need to get: The absence of truth is a lie. Withholding even part of the truth is lying. You need to be very very careful with the first lie because the first lie very often leads to telling a second lie to protect the truth from the first lie. Lying is the leading cause of more lying.
Some people excuse themselves for lying with the statement that “the truth hurts.” Well telling someone the truth is like pulling a band-aid off quickly, telling a lie is like pulling it off slowly. The fact is, lies hurt too, they just hurt longer.
Lying is lunacy, it always burns the liar in the end. Even if no one else catches you in the lie, you know that you lied and if you’re a normal person, that in itself will eventually burn you.
Lies almost never work out, the truth almost always does….play the odds, tell the truth!