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4 Steps to Take When You Catch Your Co-worker in a Lie

By | Amanda Berlin |

Anyone who tells you that he never lies is lying. I know because I say this all the time, and I’m a liar. We all are. We lie to be likable, to appear more competent, to spare people’s feelings. We lie for many, many reasons. According to a study out of University of Massachusetts, we do it as often as two to three times every 10 minutes.

Most of us spin “little white lies,” the harmless kind that (usually) make our friends’ and colleagues’ lives a little easier. When everyone is kvelling over how cute your boss’ new baby is, and you think she looks like Winston Churchill, you join the chorus and say, “she is the cutest baby I’ve ever seen.” Twisting the truth is part of being a polite, productive member of society.

However, when a colleague is lying, manipulating the facts, and possibly affecting your work and your company, what do you do?

Here’s a four-point plan for dealing with the situation like an adult.

Step 1: Make Sure the Person’s Actually Lying

While this sounds basic, it’s also essential. So, before you get caught up in the drama, double check that it really is a lie.

In order to say something that’s patently not true, the brain has to do a decent amount of work. After it’s out there, a person’s mind has to immediately deal with the emotional consequences of guilt, anxiety, and fear of being found out. All of this is to say that you can often sniff out an honest-to-goodness lie by paying attention to subtle clues.

According to Vanessa Van Edwards’ site, Science of People, the first step is to get a sense of the person’s baseline habits. Notice how he acts and holds himself when he isn’t lying. This doesn’t involve any after-hours stalking or spying, just paying attention to common gestures and speaking patterns.

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