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Dealing With Co-Workers Who Lie

Dealing with Co-Workers Who Lie
Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock

The people you work beside can make or break your job satisfaction. An understanding manager and fun co-workers can make the worst jobs bearable. But a difficult office mate can make coming into the office dreadful.

One of the hardest people to work with is someone who lies. "Lying is a common strategy that is involved in building and maintaining relationships," said Dr. Russell Thackeray, a licensed clinical psychologist at QED. "From a simple white lie to huge 'whoppers', lies have benefits as well as risks for both the liar and the lied-to."

Regardless of the reason, it's frustrating to work with a lying co-worker. When you're faced with a lying co-worker, you need to stay cool and approach the situation with caution. Business News Daily talked to career experts about lying co-workers. Here's how you should approach the situation so it doesn't ruin your work environment.

People lie for a lot of reasons. Maybe they didn't know they are lying. Maybe they feel the need to lie to compensate for their insecurities. Before you approach them or other teammates, you should consider why they are lying.

"If you catch a co-worker lying, determine what their motive might be: Some people lie to make themselves look good, perhaps because of underlying emotional insecurity, they can exaggerate their achievements or even invent a whole backstory," said Thackeray.

Phil La Duke, an organizational development professional and author, agrees that the first step is not to jump to conclusions. If your co-worker doesn't lie often and on accident, approaching them as a liar could ruin your work relationship.

"There are many people who just plain have their facts wrong," said La Duke. "Just because someone says something that isn't true doesn't mean they are deliberately trying to deceive someone, it could be that they are simply mistaken."

Try to stay calm and professional while you're determining their motives. You don't need to be good friends with all your co-workers, but you do need to be able to work with everyone. If you become heated or unprofessional, it could damage your work relationships and reputation.

"Don't get caught in their web of lies," said Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster. "Stay true to yourself and stay true to being honest, regardless of what your co-worker says or does."

Once you have determined the reason why your co-worker is lying, it might be time to have a calm conversation with them.

"Avoid challenging the lie as a confrontational with a direct statement such as 'You are lying,' because it is very likely to force the lying co-worker into an unpredictable defense mode," Thackeray said.

Try approaching your co-worker with a question such as, "You said X, but I thought Y happened?" This way, you're not placing blame on your co-worker, you're just asking a question.

"Make your co-worker aware of what's going on and make them part of the situation, not the problem," said Salemi.

If your co-worker continues to lie after chatting with them, you have two options: Accept that your co-worker is a liar, or escalate the problem and go to your boss or HR, Salemi said.

If you try to have an honest conversation with your co-worker, but they are still lying, consider reporting it to a higher up. However, approach the situation with caution. Salemi suggests only approaching your boss if the lying is impacting your work or is putting other colleagues, clients or the employer in jeopardy.

"If you do approach your manager, prepare for the conversation with documentation," Salemi said. "This can be as simple as jotting down the date, context and actual lie so you're talking less anecdotally and more factually."

Chris Chancey, founder of Amplio Recruiting, agrees that if you approach your manager, you should have solid evidence.

"You stand a better chance of getting to the bottom of the problem if you approach your manager in a calm, professional, non-accusatory tone – just present the facts and leave the rest to your boss," Chancey added.

Saige Driver

Saige received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Telecommunications from Ball State University. She is the social media strategist for Business.com and Business News Daily. She also writes reviews and articles about social media. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie.