The Truth Won’t Set You Free

Janine Driver, author of You Can’t Lie to Me, and Carol Kinsey Goman, author of the forthcoming The Truth About Lies in the Workplace, on the occasions when workplace dishonesty is the best policy.

By David Wescott

ILLUSTRATION BY JIM CAMPBELL

You Have to Discuss Appearance

“It’s perfectly fine to say how much you like your boss’s jacket while not commenting on the 10 pounds she’s gained,” says Goman. Driver adds, “When you’re asked, ‘Is my butt getting bigger since I’ve been pregnant?’ I’d advise you to respond, ‘You’re the prettiest pregnant person I’ve ever seen.’” The same logic applies to “What do you think of my haircut?”

You Hope to Avoid Injury

It’s totally acceptable to opt out of physically trying exercises with a little lie. “Don’t be afraid to fake a sprained wrist to get out of the office baseball team,” says Goman.

You Hate Kids

Be very wary on “Take Your Child to Work” Day. “You’re expected to say, ‘How charming your kids are!’ regardless of their behavior,” Goman says. Don’t dare speak your mind.

You’re Negotiating a Salary

“What do you think you’re worth?” is a tricky question. So lie. “Increase what you actually think it is by about 20 percent,” Driver says. “I knew someone who valued his work at a couple hundred thousand dollars. He didn’t want to do the project, so he asked for a million. He got it.”

You’re Terrified of Your Boss

“Internal affairs once asked about my boss, who was crazy,” says Driver. “When we spoke about it, I was falsely reassuring. I’d thrown her under the bus, but lying kept me off her hit list.”

You’re Leaving the Company

“Don’t burn bridges” and say you left because you hate your boss, says Goman. “Say you’re leaving for personal growth. Telling the truth here can be career suicide.”

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