Call them what you want: half-truths, alternative facts, white or little – they are all lies. And we’re in the middle of an epidemic of lying.
From the highest office in the land to the sales person not divulging everything about a transaction, we are plagued by this disease. More troubling, there seems to be a growing belief that the real sin is not the lie itself, but getting caught. And even then, the shame normally and rightly associated with brazenly lying has virtually disappeared.
Several months ago, someone hit our car at a stoplight and caused minor damage. We pulled over and he provided his insurance information to me, which was a year out of date. When I questioned him, he assured me that the policy was still in force. A month later, after filing a claim, I received a letter from his insurance company telling me that his policy had, indeed, expired a year ago.
It wasn’t having to spend the money out of pocket that bothered me as much as the fact that at the end of our conversation after the accident, we shook hands. He lied to my face without so much as flinching. What has happened to our society?
In my book, The Power of Promise: How to Win and Keep Customers by Telling the Truth About Your Brand, I recount how my dad told me that he never saw his father, who was a farmer, sign a contract with another farmer or vender. He was a man of his word. Once they agreed on a price for feed, or a date for delivery, they shook hands and the deal was sealed. Period.
There is a price to pay for lying, and not just by those to whom others have lied. Unless you fall into the category of sociopath, someone with a complete lack of conscience, lying affects your health. An American Psychological Association study demonstrated that telling fewer lies is linked to better mental and physical health, as well as an improvement in the health of your close personal relationships.
Lying can destroy your business. Think of the negative energy expended in order to keep your stories straight, trying to remember what you said, and making sure that all of your lies agree. Think about how that energy could have been channeled into creating new marketing ideas or product lines. Brands rise and fall because they are trusted or not trusted. And trust is built by telling the truth, relentlessly and without fail.
Pay attention to what you say this week. Pay particular attention to the so-called “half-truths” and “little white lies.” Commit to being a person of integrity and being your word. It’s never too late to start and it’s never too late to make amends. You will be healthier for it, and so will our society.