Al Pacino once said, “I always tell the truth. Even when I lie.” There is much truth in this comment. From marketing hype to fake product and service reviews, lying seems to be pervasive. Research and studies show time and time again that we have a penchant for lying: One study says most people lie once a day; we hear, on average, as many as 200 lies a day; 60 percent of people lie at least once in a 10-minute conversation with a stranger; people lie more frequently in phone calls than face to face; and 81 percent of applicants lie during interviews. The list goes on.
Most lies are harmless, garden-variety white lies. They happen for many reasons, such as: a desire to be kind to others. But, there is also a tangible danger to lying. A typical business loses about 5 percent of its revenue to fraud each year. Small businesses are the most vulnerable.
So how can you deal with all the types of lies, big and small, that hurt your business? Here are five helpful tips:
1. Strong Internal Processes
Remove temptations that may encourage your staff to lie or commit fraud. Most small-business owners are too busy growing the business to pay much attention to internal controls; however, weak ones can make you vulnerable. Every adviser will tell you, for example, that you should not have the same employee handle both the recording and processing of transactions. Separation of duties in this case is a smart business precaution.
2. Train Yourself to Spot Deception
There are several resources that can help you hone your lie-spotting skills: Check out Meyer’s TED talk, How To Spot A Liar; Carol Kinsey Goman’s book, The Truth About Lies In The Workplace, which outlines 50 verbal and nonverbal cues that can help you spot when someone tells a lie. It’s useful to have some knowledge on how to spot a liar; however, the old adage that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing is certainly applicable here. While it’s fun and useful to know the warning signs, it’s also important to realise that it’s easy to make mistakes.
3. Create an Honest Culture
Fairness in the workplace is the top prerequisite for creating a good place to work. In addition you need honesty, respect, fair wages, appreciation, recognition for work well done, clear job descriptions and lack of favoritism, to name a few. In short, if you create a culture of caring, your employees are more likely to respond truthfully, and in kind.
4. Don’t Push Employees Too Hard
While managers and business owners sometimes need to push people to give their best for the success of the business, research shows that people resort to lying when they’re stretched beyond the limit. Setting unrealistic goals and impossibly high standards, continuously demanding faster and better results, setting constant deadlines and expecting unreasonable work hours can overwhelm people and force them to lie about their work in order to avoid problems and protect their jobs. If this is your style of leadership, know the perils that come with it.
5. Realise That Customers Also Lie
Customers, like everybody else, might lie to us on occasion. If you understand why they’re lying, you can use it to your advantage. For example, clients might tell you they don’t have a budget, in an attempt to get you to provide a discount. Resist the urge to downgrade your prices. If your product is worth it, they will likely back down.