I was having a conversation with an individual whom I admire at a Toastmasters meeting on Saturday morning, that seemed to be having an internal struggle about something that he was speaking about to a youth group the night before. His message was, there is never a reason to lie and even a little white lie, is a lie.
He had these individuals break out into groups to do an exercise and one of the young men asked him: “Sir, are you saying then that it is never okay to lie, even a little white lie?” He replied: “Exactly, even if it is a little white lie, it is a lie and you lose part of your integrity.” That was followed with by the young man saying: “Sir, did you ever tell your children that there was a Santa Claus?”
My friend at that moment, throughout the night and into the next morning started to question one of his core values that he lives by; that of integrity.
The dictionary defines a lie as: ‘a false statement made with the deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.’ Whereas, a white lie is defined as: ‘a harmless or trivial lie, especially one told to avoid hurting someone’s feelings.’ There seems to be a major difference in the definition and one word that should be standing out in big bold red letters. Have you found that word yet? Here is a hint, it is defined as: ‘resolve, purpose or determination to do something.’ The word is, intent.
In the world of business, there are so many lies told that we lose count. Furthermore, as we gain our own skill set, we become aware of the lies that we are hearing from our prospects: “That sounds really good. Can you send me more information by email?” Tell me, you have not ever heard a version of that one? The prospect does not want to say ‘no’ to you and uses a form of this quite often.
We lie to ourselves when we make a decision we are not quite sure of. Ever hear yourself saying: “This was a rational decision.” The truth is that you wanted to do it. People want what they want because they want it.
Let’s go even a little further into the realm of sales. Has there ever been a case where you tell someone that is the bottom line price and you could not possibly do anymore and there was still some ‘wiggle room,’ or ‘yes, we have that in stock,’ when you clearly know that it was back ordered by the manufacturer and it’s going to be another week? Are you prepared to swear in a court of law that you have never inferred any of the above?
What it really boils down to is that the little white lie that you tell is for the greater good; a child’s belief in Santa Claus so that they have the magic and wonderment of Christmas, and if it’s not about you or benefits you, then the lie does not affect your integrity. However, if it is to benefit you and harm them be it emotionally, physically or financially, then yes, it will affect your integrity.
Knowing the difference is what keeps the integrity intact.