This past weekend I watched the movie, “The Dilemma”, with Vince Vaughn and Kevin James. It is the story about a man who finds out his best friend’s wife is cheating on him and how he tries to handle it diplomatically. Needless to say the story gets more bizarre by the moment and so when the end comes, it is really no surprise. It does, however, lead to an interesting discussion about truth and honesty. How does one be truthful with another even when it could spoil a friendship, a business deal, or a marriage? Being too truthful can also lead to lawsuits which those in the executive recruiting industry can attest to.
I always suggest when setting goals to start at the “foundation” of your goal house and identify your core values. As you move along in identifying the steps needed to reach the ultimate goal, your core values may be challenged which can be very stressful. As an example, most people would probably list honesty as one of them and may feel very guilty when they have crossed the line. Have you ever told a little white lie when someone asks you how they look or if you liked the dinner they cooked for you, etc.? In these incidences, the reason you lie, of course, is so not to hurt the feelings of others.
In terms of lying in a professional setting, when is it OK to “stretch the truth”? When interviewing for a position, candidates would like feedback on why they were not considered for the role. In some cases, it could be their experience level or compensation issues so that can honestly be relayed back to the candidate. Where it gets grey, however, is when their dress is inappropriate, their mannerisms are questionable, or their personality may be offensive or too aggressive. In many cases, it is easier for the recruiter to tell the candidate that they have another person who fits their qualifications better. Doesn’t that hurt the candidate because they don’t have the opportunity to learn from the experience and possibly change their ways?
Needless to say we have seen a lot of incidences lately of not being truthful played out in larger business settings and in the celebrity world. I question if we are immune to it now so when we are faced with a “little white lie” it easily rolls off our tongues. Do we care what message we are sending to our subordinates, our organization on the whole, our children and other family members, and our friends? What does that say about our values? When do we start saying “enough” and get back to an honest society if that is at all possible? And if we are honest with someone are they willing to really take in what we are saying and respect us for being truthful or will they become so defensive that we are reluctant to be truthful with them again? It certainly is a dilemma that does not come with easy answers.