When credibility is important (and it always is), there are no little lies

No one should take any joy in seeing the undoing of a man’s  life by the bad judgment of telling what seems to be little lies. Most people, even good people, lie at least occasionally. Sometimes, as in Brian Williams case, it is a seemingly harmless embellishment or exaggeration of a story (“I caught a fish THIS BIG”). Sometimes it’s a lie to get ourselves out of a jam, make ourselves look better or to thwart criticism or punishment (“Didn’t you get my e-mail?” “Traffic was horrendous”). Sometimes its to avoid an uncomfortable truth or even to preserve the feelings of another (“Sorry I missed your party, my mom got sick and was visiting her in the hospital.” “Grandma, this sweater you knitted for me is fabulous.”). And sometimes we tell outright falsehoods to get something we want or avoid things we don’t want (“I was in charge of 50 people at my last job” “I have no idea who spilled coffee on the computer.”). While motive matters somewhat, generally any lie we tell, undermines trust and raises suspicion as to the past and the future (“What else have you lied to me about?”).

When credibility is important, and it always is, there are no little lies.

See 12 Truths About Lying https://whatwillmatter.com/2015/02/12-truths-lying/


Comments 6

  1. I guess he was there looking for “Weapons of Mass destruction”

    Why did the Bush and his cronies get away with their lies?
    At the Congress hearing on the banking crises when a question was asked to the attorney general, “Do you believe that some bankers should be in jails?” The AG replied, “They are too big to be prosecuted” Is might right?
    The leaderships have set the bar too low and so this is what we all get from the media, sports guys (deflated balls) and the rest of us who look up to all these people at the top of the ladder as role models.
    We, each one of us, must question when we have doubts.
    We, each one of us, must set examples of the truth by living a life with good morals.
    As the mighty nation on this earth, the world looks up at us and the world will become where we lead it. It is time to Re-Arm ourselves with Good Morals. Lets call it Moral Re-Armament.

  2. The sad part of this whole story is after a while the embellishment or small lie can become the truth in the mind of the person telling the lie. From that point on the person telling the incorrect information (it is no longer a lie per se because he or she believes the information is true) runs the danger of someone else learning the truth of the situation and then wondering what else this person is remembering incorrectly. It is still a credibility issue but of a different nature.

  3. As a teacher, I cannot emphasize honesty enough. If you always tell the truth, you never need to remember what you said.

    Joseph Banfield MA, JD
    Religion, Social Science
    St. Anthony High School

  4. What Will Matter | When credibility is important (and it always is), there are no little lies. – Michael JosephsonOh , the little lies we tell, did you not know that’s how many have fallen? No lies please to me or I will have you on your knees!

  5. I have been following the fall and disgrace of Brian Williams. I am very disappointed in his actions. It makes me wonder, what else did he lie about? His reputation is gone. I thought he was trustworthy and honest. I thought his news reporting was great. What an example to follow I thought. Did he get caught up in his own success? Sissela Bok states, “Deception is the larger, more encompassing category of which lying is a subcategory.” “When we “communicate messages meant to mislead” others, to “make them believe what we ourselves do not believe,” then we engage in intentional deception.” Brian Williams has intentional deceived everyone who has seen his news cast. He knew what the truth was, and chose not to tell it. He chose to deceive us. The truth of how much he “lied”, and deceived us has left me feeling empty and wondering why? What did he think he would gain? Did he think we would never find out about his deceptions? I wonder who will be next to fall?

    Ethics in Human Communication, 6th ed, Johannesen, Richard, L., et al

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