Lying: What Would You Do?

In the December 2012 issue, SUCCESS magazine explores lying in the workplace. Whether the fib was calling in sick with a fake illness, or accepting praise for someone else’s work, the SUCCESS survey shows we are a nation of fibbers. Here’s one interesting anecdote that didn’t make the pages of SUCCESS and frankly, left the editors a little perplexed. Was this unethical? Or a necessary lie? You decide.

“The director of the school where I last worked made it her mission in life to psychoanalyze her employees. She decided that I had some sort of Freudian repressed anger and that I was in denial about it. Among other inappropriate things, she insisted that I see a therapist. This naturally made me a little bit anxious when it came time to apply for another job, since I intended to apply to some fairly prestigious schools. I therefore sent my résumé to an acquaintance who ran a (much less sought-after) nursery school, and asked that she call the director and pretend to be considering me for a job. While the director didn’t totally torpedo me, she did give me rather a flaccid recommendation. Not wanting to be damned with faint praise, I promptly struck the entire job from my résumé.

I wound up getting a job at an excellent school, but I told the director that I’d gotten the job at the far more modest school run by my acquaintance (whom the director, naturally, had no idea that I knew).

So, basically, I put up a Chinese wall: I lied to my new employers about my old job (so that they wouldn’t contact the director), and to my old employers about my new job (so that the director couldn’t somehow go out of her way to sabotage me).”
—Justin, 23-year-old preschool teacher

Did this young man do the right thing for his career, or get in over his head with lies? Tell us what you think in the comments below.


Journalist, podcaster and southpaw Shelby Skrhak is the former director of digital content and social media for Before joining SUCCESS magazine, Shelby launched the weekly suburban newspaper Plano Insider, and covered topics ranging from cops and courts to transportation and fashion. Her handwriting should be a font.

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