10 Reactive Lies People Tell in the Workplace

Lying is deceptive and evil. Jesus made it clear when he said Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44). Everyone clearly recognizes a blatant lie, but then there are the lies that come in the form of stretching the truth, not giving the whole story, or maybe not saying anything at all. Have you seen the power of one small lie? It is a ripple effect that can destroy friends, families, and organizations. Lies are the gateway to separation from God himself. There is no lie in the truth (Titus 1:2). Sadly, people find themselves saying things that can be hidden as lies. Lying starts early in the adolescent stage, and when not corrected, that person grows up to be a professional liar who enters the workplace.
I have been pastoring and leading people for a long time, and I have watched leaders make excuses to cover themselves, while letting the organization suffer. As a leader, you need to listen for these eroding lies that can eventually destroy your staff and your organization. If you listen carefully, you’ll hear these lies surface and be able to deal with them immediately.

“I already did it.”

– This is a common lie from a person who cannot admit that they did not accomplish what was supposed to be done already. They will go back and try to cover their tracks to make it look like they did it in the first place. An honest reply would be, “I still need to do that.”

“I didn’t do it.”

– As honest as it sounds, this response often masks the fact that the person did not want to do it. This response usually surfaces when the task was of no importance from the beginning. An honest answer would be, “I didn’t want to do it.”

“I’ll do it later.”

– Granted, there are times when tasks of greater importance take precedence, and new tasks have to fall in line, but if this reply comes from a heart attitude issue of not wanting to do what one is told to do, then there is a problem. A more accurate response would have been, “I’ll do it when I want to do it.” It is a matter of wanting control and choosing disobedience to authority. This is a leader who may eventually cause you a more significant problem later.

“I didn’t know.”

– Ignorance, most of the time, is because an individual lacked the initiative to find the answer and make it happen. The truth is they are not a leader, but rather a lousy manager. Instead, they wasted God’s precious time, possibly money, and resources from not doing anything to move things along. A truthful answer would be, “I didn’t take the initiative to learn.”

“I forgot.”

– I hear this phrase from time to time. I think the first time, you should use it as an opportunity to teach the person to take ownership of the task, write it down, and execute it immediately. If they “forget” twice, you remove the person from the job completely. “I forgot,” is often the scapegoat for when someone wasn’t organized enough to put it on their agenda.

“I didn’t think you’d mind.”

– This is a control issue of authority and responsivity. Usually when someone says this, they wanted to control from the beginning. They did not honor your authority in the first place. They have lied and gone around your lead because, in essence, pride has taken over.

“I didn’t know that’s what you meant.”

– Clarity is vital in all meetings, and it’s critical to have the other person repeat back what you said to confirm understanding. This statement should never surface if the clarity is a priority. However, on the other person’s side, not calling or reaching out for clarification is a way of not doing the task. A more accurate response would be, “I failed to get clarity.”

“I didn’t think you were serious.”

– This lie is a way to play neutral in the confrontation and leave people feeling in a limbo state. This is when you, as the leader, get firm and take action to show that you were serious and evaluate whether or not the person can handle the task. When an actionable task becomes a joke, the joke is no longer funny.

“It wasn’t my fault.”

– Passing blame is a lie. Everyone wants authority without responsibility. As a leader, everything is your fault, and you must not pass the blame onto someone else. It would be best if you took responsibility for your staff. Once again, it comes with the job.

“It was an accident.”

– Accidents only happen if things are not done with prudence, thoughtfulness, and carefulness or when an outside force interrupts a normal environment. Our actions must be controlled, and we must be in control of our behavior. A genuine accident is out of the person’s control and is not the norm.
As a leader, it is your job to deal with bad behaviors before they lead to a bad culture. Make sure these lies aren’t seeping into your reactive vocabulary, and teach your staff to always stand guard against the father of lies. Create a culture of honesty.
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