I’m a fan of the Fox show “Lie To Me.” In a nutshell, it’s about a guy who can detect when people are lying through various clues – facial expressions, use of language, etc. Besides the fact that it’s well-written and acted, it gives me hope that most of us can learn to do the same thing. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that’s true, but if it was I’m also convinced that a lot of folks would choose to ignore the clues since there are so many examples of people doing just that today. It’s true both in business and elsewhere and let me tell you what’s prompting this.
I’ve written before about some of my friends who have political views that are 180 degrees from where mine happen to be. That doesn’t interfere with our friendship; in many ways, it makes for great discussions that enhance our friendship. I have one friend in particular who is constantly forwarding me emails he gets which contain what seems to be alarming information. I’m not going to dignify any of it here other than to say that it’s pretty evil stuff that’s obviously being made up to scare people about what’s going on in our country. While I agree there’s a lot of scary stuff going on, I don’t find the need to make up facts to prove it.
When I get one of his notes, I spend a few minutes – maybe 5? – trying to figure out if the note is truth or fiction; 98% of the time, it’s the latter. It’s not hard to find this out thanks to the web and the existence of a number of sites that do great work looking into rumors. You’ve heard of some – Snopes, Politifact are just two – and I’m amazed that most people don’t spend the few minutes to check out this garbage. I guess we all want to believe the things we suspect and that’s the business point.
Most of us are smart enough not to believe every little piece of office gossip. Maybe we ask ourselves about the agenda of whomever is telling us. Maybe we try to find out if it’s true through other sources. We don’t take the time to dig as deeply when it’s something we want to believe, in my opinion, and that holds true when we get beyond gossip into bigger issues. In a sense, we want someone to lie to us to confirm our own beliefs. We hear “facts” from made up sources and take them as gospel. We accept twists of the truth to, in fact, BE the truth. In so doing, we hurt ourselves and our businesses.
No one has ever asked me to lie to them and I get offended when people lie to me. It’s way worse when they know they’re lying but it’s still offensive even if they did so innocently by quoting something that was sent to them and which they readily accepted as true without question. It’s one of the blessings of technology that we can check things out more easily and one of technology’s curses that we can spread the made up crap extremely efficiently. Which will you choose to do?