Little Lies Are A Big Mistake

Little Lies Are A Big Mistake

The fact is, bad news exists; there’s no way around it. People lose jobs, prospects choose competitors, projects hit roadblocks, and corporate structures change. Sugarcoating the facts, dodging phone calls, and stringing people along only makes matters worse. Believe me, there are much better ways to keep things on the up-and-up. For instance:

  • You have to let someone go. Don’t hem and haw; it causes extra stress by prolonging the inevitable. Say, “I have some difficult news to share: Your position is being eliminated, effective today.” Then provide details about the next steps in the process.
  • You miss a deadline. Resist the urge to fabricate excuses or blame technology, or even worse, a colleague. Messages like “I didn’t get your email” or “My server was down” sound an awful lot like “My dog ate my homework.” Instead, be authentic and apologetic: “I intended to have this to you as scheduled and, while there were issues outside of my control, the truth is I should have allocated more time to the project. I’ll be more diligent going forward.”
  • You don’t want to hire a vendor. Get them on the phone right away and say, “We’ve decided not to move forward and here’s why.” You don’t have to divulge every detail behind your decision, but they’ll feel better if they get at least one reason. They’ll probably counter that reason, but simply stick to your message and politely end the conversation.

Some messages do more harm than good if delivered prematurely. But when you can and should spill the truth, deliver it objectively, the way you’d want to hear it. You’ll earn the respect and trust of others who don’t want to be patronized; they just want to know what’s going on.

Before you act . . .

Think back: You’ve probably received your share of bad news. What did the deliverer say or do that made it easier or harder to take? Incorporate the good techniques and phrases into your messages.


Melissa DeLayRead all author posts

There are 2 comments on this post

  1. Scott Holmgren February 29, 2016, 10:14 pm

    What can I tell ‘jaded’ employers about my true but unbelievable track road of experience. Frankly in the course of being ‘interviewed’ I’ve been sworn at and told to be truthful ! (Although I am despite their unbelief in my past and skill level as a ‘geek’

    Alternatively I’ve been passed over (often) by somebody who has been hired although they lied (often about their schooling for instance) and then when they are seeking a person (me?) to fill the position, but I’m not there in their basket ?!

    Scott Holmgren (AKA Pissed off!)

    • Melissa DeLay February 29, 2016, 10:32 pm

      Scott, it sounds like you have an impressive resume that some potential employers find unbelievable. Whenever people question our credibility it’s usually because they 1) lack the knowledge necessary to access our capabilities or 2) are somewhat insecure about their own capabilities.

      My recommendation in these situations is to remain as neutral as possible, use diplomatic phrases like, “Not exactly, let me explain,” or “I wouldn’t say that,” and finally regain control of the conversation by giving an example of how you’ve specifically brought results to an organization.

      Your listen may not agree, but you can speak the truth considerately and objectively—that way your reputation remains in tact.