On average a person lies between 10 and 200 times a day. Some of these may be white lies, (‘good work’ or ‘that’s one way of doing it’) designed to maintain relationships and oil the social wheels.  Other lies can be detrimental and affect our development, our work, and our relationships both at home and at work. 

At the IEC we recently watched a TED video clipby author Pamela Meyer based on her book, How to Spot a Liar. She cited interesting statistics about deception:

  • When strangers meet for the first time they will on average lie three times in the first 10 minutes
  • If you are part of a married couple you will lie one out of every 10 interactions you have with your spouse
  • If you are not married the number drops to three
  • As a mother of a teenager, you are being lied to you once every five interactions.

Are you surprised by these statistics? 

Pamela Meyer talks about a number of communication patterns that people express when lying. These include language use (saying ‘did not’ rather than ‘didn’t’) and distancing oneself from the subject (describing‘ that woman’ instead of saying the woman’s name). Another is going into too much detail. If you can find a copy of Bill Clinton’s infamous denial about Monica Lewinsky you will hear many of these patterns. 

We all promote Honest communicationin the workplace as vital for the success of a business.  This video shows us that this both essential and is harder than we think. The point Pamela Meyer stresses is the importance of attaching what we say to our values.  If we choose to tell a white lie it is usually because we have a strong value about, for example, hurting another person’s feelings. 

Honest communication, then, is communication that is honest to our own values and the values we share with others (including organisational values) as well as speaking the “facts” about something. 

When there is a culture of openness to feedback that includes praise, recognition for work well done and acknowledgement as well as constructive critical feedback, staff feel as though they can speak up when something is wrong. They are willing to share their feelings on a particular subject. And shared understanding and meaning about decisions are gained lead to strong engagement and superior performance. From a manager’s perspective, creating an honest and open culture will ensure that harmful deception and underground conversations are minimised and nothing is hidden.

Are you aware of daily deceptions? Does your business culture foster open and honest communication?


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