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26 Sep 2016

What Makes A Good Lie Work So Well At Work

Good lies can only do so much. They need help to really flourish. What makes a good lie work so well at work? It’s the conditions that surround the lie. Knowing these helps thwart them and stop bad outcomes.

The Conditions That Make A Good Lie Work

A search of what makes a good lie gives many tips. They focus more on the lie itself though. Few focus on what makes a good lie work. Even fewer focus on the workplace.

Just like the right conditions make for better crops, the right conditions are what makes a good lie work.

As with crops, what makes a good lie work are the right conditions.

Like crops, lies flourish in ideal conditions. Here are four ideal conditions that make it easier for lies to take hold:

  1. There is pressure on the parties to a lie.
  2. Thought is needed to uncover the lie.
  3. The lie feeds what people want to hear.
  4. The lie is simple, or it simplifies things.

As pressure goes up so does dishonesty. People tend to avoid thought, known as cognitive ease. People like to hear what they want to hear. The simpler something is the more likely people will accept it, truth or lie.

Case Study of What Makes A Good Lie Work

Now, let’s apply these to an example. Imagine a bank employee and her manager pressured for sales. The employee opens a new account for a customer. However, the customer did not authorize it.

The manager suspects something, but when he asks whether the customer really authorized it, she says, “Yes, he did.” The manager does not pursue further.

Both the employee and manager feel pressure to make their goals. This increases the likelihood that the employee would lie and the manager would accept it.

To uncover the lie, the manager would have to think how to do that. Then, he would have to think how to address it. This is more thought than just accepting the lie.

The manager likes to hear his employee made a sale. It helps him. It confirms he is a good manager. He is hearing what he likes to hear.

The lie is simple. The employee answered simply. A sale fits their normal process. A lie does not. Accepting the lie makes things simpler than uncovering the lie does.

Good Soil for Crops and Lies

Just as the right soil makes for better farming, the right culture makes for better lying. A good lie only works so well on its own. It needs the right organizational culture to really take hold and flourish. The above four conditions help us assess how vulnerable a culture is to lies.

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