Is It Fine To Tell A Well-Intentioned Lie At Work?

What to do in dicey situation at work, where a lie could save the day?

Is It Fine To Tell A Well-Intentioned Lie At Work?
Image Credit: entrepreneur

While most of the days at work can be routine, some days are filled with drama. You may face a dilemma and will have to take a critical decision. Should you tell a friend at work that the boss may fire him or her? Should you tell a team mate the truth when you know the supervisor is considering shifting him out? Do you tell the boss clearly that you are convinced the competitor is going to offer a better price to the client?

Some such situations pose a dilemma to you, and you have to cautiously consider what you should do. While transparency and ethical concerns warrant that you always tell the truth, sometimes some scenarios may demand that you tell a well-intentioned lie.

In ‘Suits’, Mike lied to Harvey when he was sure he was right about a case and Harvey disagreed
In ‘Suits’, Mike lied to Harvey when he was sure he was right about a case and Harvey disagreed

Image Credit: TV Series – Suits

So, here are some situations when it would be understandable to tell a well-intentioned lie at work.

Are You Very Sure That The Person Would Be Better Off With A Lie?

For instance, just before a friend is going to step inside the conference room to give a presentation to the boss, and asked you how they look, your only answer could be that they look fine. Any other answer could affect their confidence, and ruin even a good presentation.

If you are not sure whether most people prefer the outcome associated with lying, consider asking a group of people. If there is disagreement, tell the truth.

Are You Sure The Concerned Person Prefers Comfort Over Honesty?

Some people have the nerve to face the whole truth, and some prefer to be in the comfort zone. You can accordingly decide what should be your conduct with these people. Consider asking your colleagues the type of feedback they appreciate, and when and why they might appreciate constructive criticism over comfort.

Are You Sure The Person Would Trust You To Understand Your Intention Behind The Lie?

If the person would not understand your good intention, lying can be tricky to explain if you are caught on the back foot. Lying may be helpful when there is no ambiguity about the resulting benefits for those on the receiving end. But in most other circumstances, honesty is the best policy.

Anshu Tripathi, Head of HR at Infibeam Avenues, says that, “Lying does not help in the long run. If your lie backfires, then even if it is well-intentioned, it may be construed as unprofessional. It could cost you the trust of your organisation on a permanent basis.”

These considerations will help you when facing a dilemma at work.