Working Wounded: Dealing With Liars

DEAR READERS: Recently I wrote a column on how to deal with a coworker that you think is lying to you. This column generated the most mail of any column written in all of 2006. I've included a range of strategies below. A special thanks to everyone who shared their insight.

Here is a sample of some of the responses:

"To successfully uncover the lies of someone you first must know how to lie yourself. Now, some people just don't know how to lie because they've never been around someone who was good at it. I'm going to give you some pointers -- never ever exaggerate within the lie. Details are key and remembering those details is what will keep the lie alive."

"One of the ways that deal with co-workers who I think have lied to me is to ask them the most obvious question: 'Did you lie to me when…?'"

"In a group of people, ask the person the question you need answered and when they lie to you, I just say -- 'You lying &*#^, you never said that in your whole life.' Everybody breaks up laughing and the person obviously is caught. We all make a joke of it and it is much harder for them to be dishonest the next time."

"When it is obvious that someone's story has little connection to reality, I say 'Oh my gosh, almost the exact same thing happened to me.' This achieves the objective of 1) pointing out to the tall tale teller that you are on to him; and 2) makes everyone else realize how ridiculous this co-worker's stories are getting, and forces everyone to evaluate the veracity of all future tall tales.

"When trying to detect a liar, I act absent-minded and pause with unfinished sentences. The liar tends to fill these spaces. I have caught liars this way."

"I give them my biggest smile and usually say something like, 'Come on Pinocchio, your nose is growing.' Then I laugh gently. If they seem embarrassed or avoid eye contact and smile and say nothing, then I have confirmation that they have lied. They know it and I know it. Reading their body language is extremely important. Once word gets around that you are not a fool who will believe anything, most people won't try it with you."

"If you must interact with this person, try to have a third party present to be a neutral witness to any conversation that takes place. Also, if possible, interact via e-mail and be professional. We all know e-mails are a nice time-stamped paper trail of the facts."

"There are different ways to deal with lies, depending on the reason and the frequency. The solutions range from ignoring the lies, to training, to confrontation, to verbal and written warnings, and perhaps, as a last resort if the damage by the lies is substantial, termination."

"Of course he is lying. Everyone is lying. It's part of the human condition. Bosses lie all the time. Workers give them lies in reply and to each other."

Online Ballot and Contest

Here are the results from a recent workingwounded.com/ABCNEWS.com online ballot:

Working Wounded/ABCNEWS.com online ballot question: My retirement will be…

  • A struggle, 19.1 percent
  • I'll never retire, 22.3 percent
  • The best time of my life, 58.5 percent

Winning Strategy

Our winning strategy for retiring comes from L.R. in Vancouver, Canada.:

"Retirement is a pipe dream. We all need to find a job we love, or at least like, because we're going to all be working for a long, long time. So to me it's more important than ever to find a job you like."

List of the Week

Sideways -- Year-end thoughts from workers:

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