We teach our children not to lie, when in doubt, to tell the truth. Most, through trial and error learn this lesson and grow into adulthood with a sense of right and wrong, of truth or consequences. But there are some that master the telling of half-truths, lies, and the practice of deceit and wear it like Jacob’s coat with a false sense of invincibility. Sooner or later, like all lies, the fabric becomes worn and unravels, leaving nothing more than tangled threads lacking both purpose and function.
I had the unfortunate experience of having to deal with an insincere business consultant last week that compromised the policies of the workplace in order to further his business interests. When confronted with his actions and behavior he began to lie. Unfortunately for him, the more he weaved his tales the more I recognized the untruths. I am someone that tries to take the most respectful interpretation of unfortunate events, but once confronted with clear and deliberate deception; my search for the truth becomes laser-like and focused. I asked the individual several times for the truth, and he tried the age-old technique to explain why he was above scrutiny and beholden to none. I was dogmatic in my questioning and patient in my explanation of how his version of events could not be the truth. Eventually, he admitted the deception and when pressed to explain why he felt the need to go to such extremes he attempted to turn the tables. In short, I was so difficult and obfuscating that he had no other choice. In other words, his choice to lie and deceive was my fault.
My experience last week, brought home how quick we are to accept such behavior when under the umbrella of business. Somehow, we have been led to think that disagreeable tactics that we would never accept in our children are totally acceptable in the marketplace. In fact, shrewd business people are celebrated for getting ahead, no matter how they got there. We seem to forget that as a child if you won the game by cheating, not following the rules, or through bullying and intimidation, you were considered a poor sport, and disqualified at all costs. Lying, cheating, and bad behavior were not the keys to success.
Perhaps I am a rare breed, but I believe you can negotiate without gamesmanship, have difficult conversations about difficult situations without looking for a scapegoat, and be successful with your ethics intact. In order to do so, you have to be willing to be called on the carpet, have your naiveté scoffed at, and have your integrity attacked. Even so, I get through those moments remembering that Pinocchio was the only one that was unaware of his ever-growing nose even as it became obvious to everyone else. He also quickly transformed into an ass by following the road of short-term gain for life-long compromise. So let this be a warning to those with growing noses and to those that choose to bray with the best of the donkeys: at the end of the day the Blue Fairy always gets her way through altruism and truth; and this business woman has placed all her stakes on the Blue Fairy.
© Kelly Tweeddale 2012