Earlier in the year I asked "Is it OK to lie at work?" and admitted that I do. Regularly. I argue that the occasional fabrication of the facts is an important management tool. (A position which can be deduced quite easily from many of my posts, I am sure!). Not concealing important, relevant information, but using the truth economically to help maintain your position (or that of your staff, customers, or suppliers).
Hugh has been talking about lying recently, and he reakons that many of us lie for a living;
"You're not a bad person, not really, but telling the truth at your current company tends to get people fired....Lying replaced ideas long ago."
But I do think their is a distinguishable difference (and moral difference) between telling a blatant whopper and a offering a tarradiddle. After all, we are all pretty clever detectives these days (too much Law and Order!), and can see through obvious bullshit. So you can't get away with grandiose tales. But I reakon telling little fibs is an important, modern, social skill.
The problem, though, does rest at this "shallow-end" of pool. When does an exaggeration, become a lie? And what happens when my truth differs from your truth? Tony Goodson gets around a bit, and he also has a problem at this end of the pool:
"I see so many people exaggerating and lying. I don't know if they're doing it deliberately. Maybe lying is about perspective; they don't see the same perspective as me, so it's not really lying!"
I don't want to claim the moral high ground on this, I just realise that in conversation I'm always on my guard, and there's lots of eye brow raising going on inside me! I think it's about secrecy (not privacy) most people seem ashamed to reveal who they really are."
I don't know that it is necessarily "bullshit", though. If the truth equals context plus perception, and perceptions differ, then people's idea of what is a "lie" will differ. That doesn't mean that they are all bad, evil, liars. They just have different "perceptions" that they consider gospel. It is a mute argument, each is convinced of thier view. So who is lying?
If you need proof, just look at the spin used by our politicians, look at how they manage to change peoples perceptions. They effectively (and regularly) manipulate context and perceptions so that they align the masses (and cause some serious divisions). And then it is tough to tell who is lying, it will depend on your own stand point.
The same thing happens at work. It's part of the world we live in.