To Lie or Not to Lie

June 23, 2014


My firm is active in the space known as reputation management (RM). With the proliferation of information about all that we do and who we are – to those with whom we engage in commerce and life — reputation is fragile and transient.

Sadly, we mutually live in a time in which we expect for others to lie.  Human nature encourages a thing called denial.  It is often easier to convince ourselves that those with whom we are closest tell us directly and because they mean and believe their words.  And then there is the choosing what we want to see and believe.

  • Yes, my driver’s license has the right weight.
  • This hair color – of course it’s mine.
  • You look terrific.  No, we have not aged at all.

Two now older guys named Paul and Art once said, “A man see’s what he wants to see and disregards the rest.”  It is how we live and persevere.  Otherwise, getting out of bed might be all-too-difficult.

And then goddess of all of the world’s words Joan Didion called one of her collections “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” Amen.  The older we become – the more we know that it just might be advisable to maintain that bubble of loveliness – if at all possible.

Shelter those kids, build that picket fence, and believe that it will all turn out well. Deny.  This is not a bad thing.

Dealing in RM means often advising a client who is between the proverbial rock and a hard place.  And these guys and girls sometimes have to communicate their way to a resolution with an angered party.

Good guys who learn that their partners are not of the positive and honest ilk are often confounded and challenged.  How could they? I didn’t know he/she was like that.  How dare?  And once the shock is overtaken by acceptance – we together craft a solution.

While it is tempting to join the dishonest party in the gutter – it is ill advised.  I learned from my best boss ever, to stay on the high road.  That remaining rarified would serve me well. And more cynically — from a politician and friend (who still holds very high office.) It’s important not to lie—because then one does not have to remember the truth.

Yes, gives me a headache too.

Weaving the Shakespearean tangled web – is too darn hard to track and no way to live.  RM 101 is that you can preserve your good name and reputation by keeping it simple.  Simple is sticking to the facts, the truth and the real version.

While we are all tempted to take the shortcut … in honesty — our sleep becomes deeper.  We each should endeavor to preserve the only thing that is ever truly ours, our good name.

Or as protagonist John Proctor proclaimed, “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!”