Lying around the Office

by F.

It’s almost impossible to function in a company without learning to lie well, at least in the long term. Yet, this is something we don’t really want to talk about. Most of us don’t, anyway. Lucy Kellaway is the exception. From her latest column:

Last week, I was sent a proof copy of a book by David Shulman, a US professor of anthropology, which reinforces the point that deception is a part of office life. From Hire to Liar argues that as most management theory fails to take the lying into account, it cannot therefore shed much light on the business world as we know it.

True that.

There are lots of reasons why lying (or distorting or dissembling) is necessary. Workplaces are hierarchies, which involves kissing up and kicking down. Offices are competitive, which means putting your best foot forward, and making yourself look better than you are. It means trashing the competition. Selling anything usually means stretching the truth and seeing things only from one side.

The rules of organisational life also invite workers to cover up any infringements. We lie about taking days off, being late for work or acts of skiving and slacking. Unrealistic targets and budgets make lying essential.

More is here.