Are You Brave Enough to Tell the Truth?

BY Kathy Crosett
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How often have you felt the pressure in a sales team meeting to give the answer you know the boss wants to hear? Are you brave enough to tell the truth or does your answer fall in the zone of deception? These situations happen to all of us.

The big deal you’ve been working on is nowhere near where your boss wants it to be. You’ve demoed the product and picked up on good vibes from the prospect. In the sales meeting, your boss suggests that you’re already at the point of negotiating the terms of the deal. And maybe because your nemesis is sitting across the table, you don’t correct your boss’ assumption. After all, you’ve got a chance to close the deal. And if you don’t, well…deals go wrong all the time. What’s wrong with this picture? Quite a lot, according to Jan Allen, co-​managing partner at Business of People.

Honest Broker of Information

During her guest appearance on our Manage Smarter podcast, Allen discussed what it means to be an honest broker of information and how dishonesty can destroy a team and an organization. Stories of backstabbing, lying and gaslighting abound in corporate America. And you may personally work with someone whose bold lies have helped them get a position you wanted. 

With all this going on, you might not think it’s a big deal to fib. It might feel easier not mention to the boss that a key customer is unhappy with the latest upgrade. If you find yourself in this position, it’s worth analyzing what’s behind your feelings. There’s often a reason that people are tempted to lie on the job. Workplace factors such as “unrealistic expectations, intense competition, and harsh consequences for failure,” contribute to the motivation for lying, says Christian Hart.

You might be tempted to lie because you’re competing for the one big bonus that will be handed out at the end of the year. That setup could cause you to gossip or have ‘sideways conversations’ with team members about the person you see as your biggest competitor. Using this strategy, you might score the bonus you wanted.

But you’ve also dinged your reputation. Your behavior in the workplace means people will be talking about you. They’ll know you deliberately spread misinformation about a co-​worker. People have long memories about these kinds of incidents.

And when you lie to your boss and everyone else about a deal status, you’re contributing to a culture that supports misinformation. You may be justifying dishonesty because that’s how everyone else in the organization behaves. Over time, people won’t be able to trust each other. And in that kind of organization, business stalls, loyalty disintegrates, and little gets accomplished.

Brave Enough to Tell the Truth

You can stand up for honesty by being brave enough to tell the truth in one-​on-​one meetings and in team gatherings. It’s never fun to be in the hot seat and to admit that your deal has suffered a setback. You might endure a grilling from the boss. Yes, that co-​worker might smirk at you in the same way your youngest sibling did when your parents caught you doing something wrong. Don’t let the emotions these situations stir up tempt you to behave poorly.

One bonus for telling the truth is that you won’t have to worry about keeping your lies straight. But the best part is knowing you did the right thing. You’ll earn the reputation of being the person people can trust. And that factor will weigh in your favor in your current job and as you seek to move up the ladder.