Apparently we start lying as soon as we learn to speak.
Babies do it. Toddlers do it automatically and naturally. Teens do it and adults do it. Fibbing is human nature.
We have to be taught not to do it – being 100% truthful doesn’t come naturally. But is lying always a bad thing? Or does it have its place in business, just like it does in your personal life?
In fact psychologists reckon lying plays a valuable part in life. Take compliments for a start. You might think your friend’s new outfit is hideous. Or their new lover is a complete arse. But you wouldn’t say so. Instead, to save their feelings and your friendship, you might compliment them gently instead. It’s a lie… a kind one.
So what about lying in business?
It’s a matter of degree. There’s no point fibbing like a good ‘un when the outcome would be more positive if you hung the truth out to dry. Or telling the truth when doing so damages your company and trashes your business relationships.
If you don’t want to take on a new customer because you don’t like the way they operate, or it’d be a terrible cultural fit, it’s probably best to lie to prevent them taking offence. But if a customer has done something unethical or dishonourable it might be a good idea to tell them, politely and firmly, exactly how you feel about the matter. In effect you’re doing them a business favour.
If you get stuck try imagining how you’d feel – and what you’d expect from someone else – in the same circumstances. And bear in mind that, as a general rule, if you have a problem with a customer or supplier and solve it, you end up with a better relationship than if you’d never had a problem in the first place.