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The trick with lying is getting your stories straight. If you can’t remember your fibs then it will be easy for someone to trip you up and once someone knows you have lied you have likely lost their trust forever. Navigating office politics is a little different though where you don’t want to get stuck in the middle of a rumour or overshare with your colleagues. Writing for Forbes.com, Liz Ryan goes through all the scenarios of when it’s okay to be less than 100% honest at work.
1. Don’t stir the pot
You hear a more senior person say something negative about your direct boss. You don’t want to be the one to deliver that news. Best to plead ignorance and stay out of it because as the saying goes they will, “blame the messenger.”
And while you are at it stay clear of the rumour mill, there is no reason to tell your boss things you have heard about changes at the company or drama in other departments no matter how often they ask, “What have you heard?”
2. Never discuss politics
You don’t owe anyone anything when it comes to your personal beliefs, no matter how curious a boss or coworker might be. Shut the inquiry down with, “I’m not that interested in that stuff” or “I like to keep my politics outside of work” if you prefer to keep your opinions to yourself.
3. Don’t be a snitch
Don’t let your boss force you into spying on your coworkers. If your superior asks you what you think of your colleague’s performance try and keep your thoughts to yourself even if they are more play hard than work hard. Ryan suggests saying, “I think those guys are doing okay, but you should ask them.” Same goes if a manager asks if an employee is angry with them, they should go to that person directly better to say you haven’t heard anything.
4. Keep job hunts to yourself
“Is anybody in the department job-hunting?” your manager asks you. This is inappropriate and definitely not how they should find out. Whether its one person or everyone has revealed their exit strategy to you, plead ignorance with a simple, “I don’t know.” What if your manager catches you in the middle of a stealth job search and says, “If I give you a pay raise now, will that make you happy enough to stay here?” Answer with a yes you would appreciate that but you are not obliged to stop your search or looking for better opportunities.
5. Mum’s the word on your future plans
Even if your boss asks in your performance review what your long-term career plans are. There is nothing that obligates you to share your long-term goals if you don’t want to. If the question comes up give a stock standard, “I’m still sorting that out,” even if you are really planning to start your own company in the not too distant future.
6. Don’t say anything unless you have something nice to say.
Unless you have an extremely close relationship where you think your manager will take your advice on board don’t under any circumstances offer your honest critique of their leadership skills. There is an unequal power dynamic at play which makes it in your best interest to keep your criticism about your manager’s flaws to yourself.
Your boss asks if its possible to clear your weekend because they need you for a crisis. Learn to say no and that you have made plans you cannot break. Even if those plans are eating chips and watching Netflix, you are never obligated to say yes to overtime if you don’t want to work.