I’m not a fan of lying or being lied to. In fact I think it’s one of the worst offences a person can commit.
That being said I’d like to share a story.
When my son was 3 years old he was playing on a chair.
He was jumping up and down, having fun, etc etc.
All of a sudden he fell right off the chair. And it looked like it could be really bad.
He landed awkwardly, practically on his face and I could see him tensing up getting ready to cry.
I ran right over to him and said, “Wow! That was amazing! How’d you do such an amazing trick???”
He paused for a moment and instead of crying he wound up smiling.
It was at that moment I knew he wasn’t likely seriously hurt.
I then said “I can’t believe you did that! But make sure you’re really careful because you can really get hurt. I’m really proud of that trick but you still need to be very careful.”
Now my son is 8 and he’s a total daredevil. He’ll jump from high heights, do flips, whatever, and never care.
When I look back at that moment, what if I had ran up to him and shook him vigorously saying “Are you OK? Tell daddy what hurts” etc etc?
Would he still be a daredevil today? Tough to answer.
The point is I stand by that decision. I essentially lied to my son but it was to his benefit.
Which begs the question, is it OK to lie to your employees?
Well, if it protects them in a way that allows them to continue performing at an optimal level, then it can be, yes.
This question draws plenty of ethical lines.
For example, if someone is cheating on their spouse, is not telling them protecting the other person? I would argue no way and that’s a terrible case in which to lie.
But what if you have an employee that heard a rumor about your company and they are concerned about their job?
They ask you “is my job safe?”
Is it wrong to tell them “of course it is, you’re doing great, keep doing what you’re doing?”
If what you just said keeps that performing at an optimal level and saves the company, how was that a bad lie?
Again, a tough moral dilemma but worth talking about.