Do you cheat and lie, and yet still think you’re a good person? If so, you’re in good company. But, if you’re a business owner, a cheating or lying employee isn’t good for your company. Apparently, deception has become so common that the threat of getting caught doesn’t even factor into whether or not a person will cheat or lie.
The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty author Dan Ariely uses personal examples from his life to explain why people cheat. Ariely, a Duke University Psychology and Behavioral Economics Professor describes how he once exaggerated an ailment in order to obtain a wheelchair that would enable him to skip a long line at an airport. In his book, he describes how his lie was so effective that he himself became indignant about the airport’s inept treatment of his condition.
Entire Industries Combat Widespread Cheating
Ariely’s book could provide endless quotes at graduation speeches or could fit perfectly on a top ten list for MBA grads because much of his research centers around students and what circumstances encourage them to cheat. In one of Ariely’s examples, students cheated or “fudged the truth” just enough to still remain honest in their own eyes – something the author referred to as the “fudge factor theory.” So, is it impossible to stop rampant cheating? Ariely examines what factors allow or encourage deception. He suggests ways to interrupt potential patterns that might otherwise become a lifelong habit.
Some of these “habits” stem from living in an atmosphere of intense competition. For example, everyone has heard about rampant cheating in college. In fact, some observers see schools as incubators where students hone lifelong cheating skills. Entire industries have sprung up to deter cheating. In an article on
Are Your Employees Giving In To Temptation?
In the Psychology Today article “Secrets of Special Agents,” author Kaja Perina explains that professional “lie detectors” are trained to “see the invisible.” Perina describes that these investigators can instantly assess people and determine whether or not they’re telling the truth. “They seize on gestures of discomfort, micro-expressions of anger, inconsistencies of language—signals that others routinely miss. And they assemble the data into sometimes instant hunches about the character they’re dealing with. They operate along inductive and deductive channels simultaneously: A shrewd reader is often as quick to typecast a personality as he is slow to judge the veracity of the information coming out of a person’s mouth,” Perina says.
According to Ariely, since cheating is contagious, managers have to pay attention to even the smallest infractions, especially among the leaders of a group. As a manager, you can stop employee cheating and lying several ways, but you must be vigilant.
Five Useful Observations About Lying and Cheating
When it comes to preventing lying and cheating, businesses leaders have power they can deploy. Adopting the right values and governance can create a corporate culture that encourages honesty.
Ariely’s observations about lying and cheating could help keep your employees on the straight and narrow. He says:
- Small lies lay the mental groundwork for more lying. Managers should set a good example.
- Moral reminders and watchful eyes reduce lying and cheating.
- Understanding why people lie and cheat makes it easier to prevent.
- Physical and/or mental fatigue makes people more likely to cheat.
- People’s ability to rationalize immoral behavior and yet still feel good about themselves affects how much they cheat.
So, how can you prevent cheating and lying in your company? It’s helpful to look at the reasons people lie and cheat in the first place. In the book, “How to Spot a Liar: Why People Don’t Tell the Truth and How You Can Catch Them” by Greg Hartley and Maryann Karinch, the authors examine the following aspects of deception:
- • Why people lie
- • What physiological and psychological changes occur when people lie
- • How interrogation techniques uncover the truth
- • How to conduct an intelligent argument and a useful interview
The authors of both business books conclude that cheating seems inevitable and that everyone cheats a little, but that everyone could benefit from reminders to stay on the right path.