BUSINESS ETHICS INSIGHT: Beware of the White Lie Trap

Why is it that the shade of a lie looks so different to the person lied to than the liar? People who lie, sometimes for personal advantage (including avoiding an unpleasant confrontation) and other times to protect the feelings of the person lied to, tend to see their falsehood in shades of white. People lied to tend to see the same lie in shades of black. In relationships of trust, outright lying, more subtle (or sneaky) deceptions and even a lack of candor (failure to affirmatively disclose information important to the person lied to) can damage or destroy trust despite the liars self-serving believe that the lie was harmless or even helpful. The only kind of lies entitled to the protection of the label “white lie” are those that will not diminish trust if and when discovered. If you are thinking of lying look at it from the perspective of the “victim” first and you may save yourself a lot of trouble including the loss of a valued relationship. – Michael Josephson

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