A fib is not a lie. But it’s not quite the truth either. And we all are sometimes guilty – fibbing has taken over the work world. Millions of little white lies bounce around cubicles and office spaces every day. No, I am not talking about criminal activity or any kind of fraud. I am talking about fibs that might make you less successful – or not.
At a time when fact checking and fake news has entered the parlance, fibbing seems to be at an all-time high.
Think not? Here are a few fibbing test questions: Have you ever put a few “extra” words in your resume? Is the number of followers on LinkedIn that you claim more than what your page actually displays? Have you ever been on a project team that was a total disaster but you told everyone the team was on time and on budget? Have you ever tried to sell something for the company that you knew was a piece of junk but you didn’t say anything?
These are just a few examples of the fibs that can fly around the workplace and make for days of worry that you will get caught. And you don’t need to see an employee manual or business book to see that fibbing is generally not okay.
Why do we do it?
- The deadline schedule and your personal schedule are not quite in sync, but you can get it done over the weekend. FIB: “We are right on schedule but if we wait until next week, we can get more people in the room.”
- Others need to be protected and you want to do them a favor. FIB: “He/she worked their ass off on this project.”
- You missed something, didn’t do something or just didn’t want to do something and now you need to cover your ass. FIB: “That request must have gone into my Spam folder, you will have it tomorrow.”
- The truth of the situation is worse than the fib, like when no one is buying a junk product. FIB: “The customers are slow to adapt.”
- Others don’t recognize the real value you created and you crave the recognition. FIB: “The degree of difficulty on this was a ten and I doubt any one else could have done it.”
- Pretending to be something we are not in order to impress. FIB: “I provided a solution to the talent problems using a proprietary derivative method through Black-Scholes and flux capacitors.”
- Saying “No” would just cause more problems so we say yes even though we don’t mean it. FIB: “No problem, I will put it on the list and get to it”.
- The job isn’t done and we need to share the blame with others. FIB: “It’s been in procurement (IT, HR) for months.
Okay, I fibbed, there are not 10 reasons, there are only eight that I can think of, but there are actually millions of reasons why fibs happen in the workplace. I am sure you have a few to add. Go ahead.
But I hope you don’t add too many. Fibbing is neither good for you or the organization. A culture of fibbing is terrible for morale and will have everyone wondering what is true and what is not. For your career, being known as a fibber will have people avoiding you and will eventually impact your career progression and reputation. You will get caught. Lastly, it is a miserable feeling to be wondering who knows the truth and can sniff out a fib.
In short, DON’T FIB. Just remember stories like “Pinocchio”, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” because those fibs can add up.
Richard is the author of the new book The Thing About Work: Showing Up and Other Important Matters [A Worker’s Manual]. You can follow his writing on Twitter, Facebook, or at his website at richardmoran.com.
Richard is President of Menlo College in Atherton, CA. He is a noted San Francisco based business leader, best-selling author, speaker, and venture capitalist.