The Passive Lie

You and I don't lie, if you define 'lying' as 'intentionally telling an untruth.' How does it feel, though, when you've said something would happen, and then, it doesn't?

It's just something that happens, right? Time and the unforeseen and all that.

That's hard for me. When I tell a client or a friend 'this or that will happen by such-and-such a time' and then it doesn't, to me, it feels like I lied. Worse, if the failure to deliver is precipitated by someone else's actions, I can find myself unconsciously thinking that they made me lie.

Folks who are fairly self-aware can ponder this, realise it's nonsense, and hope to cope.

What about folks who aren't? What about your client whose project wasn't delivered on time, or the chap in the other department whose reports weren't in hand before his big meeting?

You may be well aware that the circumstances were, truly, beyond your control. Are you positive that's their perception as well? No, what really happened doesn't matter. There is no reality; there is only perception.

When things are beyond your control, that, in and of itself, doesn't change the perceptions others have. If their perception of you used to be 'delivers, and on time' and now it's 'failed to deliver' then you can either choose to flog them with excuses (or reasons) or you can earn back the better perception by owning the failure and jumping through hoops of flaming chainsaws if necessary to right whatever went wrong.

Comments 5

  1. Lara wrote:

    Inshallah- Lord willing- things I hear over & over from certain people who are simply aware that the world rests not on our own shoulders and timing is not always our own.

    Communication is not the same as making excuses. I have a special order right now- my supplier is changing ownership- as soon as I know there is a problem, I contact my client and offer her options- substitute, cancel the order for a refund of the deposit or wait. I give as much information as I have & am honest about the uncertainties. That's different from saying "sorry this is 2 months late, what happened was..." Back to the golden rule again- how would you want this to be treated? Has your client given you enough information that you know how they would want this dealt with? Most people I have dealt with rather like being treated as rational human beings. If you honestly believe you have done your best both in delivery of service, problem solving and in *communication*, you have nothing to be ashamed of & at the end of the day, how you feel about your integrity is what really counts.

    Posted 01 Jul 2010 at 6:06 am
  2. Joel D Canfield wrote:

    Lara, agree absolutely that intent and communication are vital to keeping my perception of myself balanced. I know I do a good job with those things.

    Perhaps sometimes I'm still unconsciously blaming myself for someone else's failure to deliver. Need to shine a light on those instances and see if feel guilty because I share responsibility, or if I don't, and shouldn't.

    Posted 01 Jul 2010 at 6:16 am
  3. caitlyn wrote:

    All sounds good - communicate, be scrupulously honest, make sure perceptions align, but really, don't you sometimes just feel like spicing things up and jumping through some flaming chainsaws?

    Gotta add some flaming chainsaws to my website. Will go and decide if that is literally or metaphorically. ;-)

    Posted 02 Jul 2010 at 11:56 am
  4. Joel D Canfield wrote:

    I sorta figure if I create a situation, in my mind, that is ridiculously in the other person's favor, and I meet all those unreasonable expectations I've set for myself, and there's still a feeling of unease, well, at that point, I acknowledge and accept my psychosis and move on.

    Do not install literal flaming chainsaws on your website; bad idea. Do not ask me how I know this.

    Posted 02 Jul 2010 at 12:37 pm
  5. caitlyn wrote:

    I have resisted putting flaming chainsaws on my website. I have refrained from asking how you know this is a bad idea ... but maybe, I thought, maybe the story would just "float" to the surface ... before I give you the password to my wi-fi connection ... before you have the key to the shed where I keep the chainsaw.

    Posted 23 Jul 2010 at 9:05 pm

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