Monday, September 19, 2005

Why do people lie?

Managers will often say that they want their subordinates to tell them the truth all the time. However, they usually do not mean it. The subordinates soon learn that bad news angers the boss and avoid sharing it. This happens in other aspects of life. The friend will not tell you something you need to know for fear of damaging the friendship. The wife will not tell the husband what she really thinks because she does not want to hurt his feelings. In business, usually, warnings which might enrage are only warnings and never come true. However, sometimes they come true and the manager never ahd any warning. Often lies of omission or even of commission seem to be the lubricant which makes society function, but at other times they can be very harmful.

The reason many people withhold news which the other person will not like are legitimate if the other person gets angry or refuses to accept it. It is up to each of us to learn to take bad news with equanimity, and to reward, not punish people for telling the truth.

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