Dealing with a dishonest co-worker – here’s what to do
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By Lizette Volkwyn
Most people lie in any 10-minute conversation, albeit a white lie, or just an “I’m okay” whilst breaking inside.
Have you ever dealt with a colleague and deep inside you knew they are not telling the truth? They did not send the report and now it is affecting your reputation. How do you deal with lying that affects you directly?
As a truth and creditability consultant, I know exactly what to look for to know whether I am being lied to or not, but without calling everyone out on their lies, how can we deal with them and still hold your face at work.
On a personal level, I experienced sexual harassment at a corporate company I worked for. I felt violated and disrespected. I knew I had to act - no matter what. I reported the incident to my director then and, in the beginning, he did everything he could to discredit me and made it seem that I am unfit to run my division. I knew I had to stand my ground and kept to the facts, even though everything in me shouted to act on my emotions.
After the correct channels were followed (and awaiting the outcome), I chose to resign with most of my creditability restored. Six months down the line, he was dismissed on several other sexual harassment cases, mine being the catapult that set the wheels in motion.
How do you deal with the liars?
1. Stand your ground
The biggest mistake individuals tend to do, is to withdraw. The liars are bargaining on you not to speak up or call them out. When it affects your reputation at work, you need to raise it, firstly with the colleague involved. If you find it is laughed off or ignored, then take it up with your superior and support it with facts.
A company with the right ethics and values will address it sooner than later.
2. Park the emotions; focus on the facts
When our core values are affected, it evokes extreme emotions, and our first reaction is to react with passion and emotion. DON’T...focus on the facts. Liars can only hide behind emotions and manipulation; they cannot manipulate facts and figures.
They will realize that you cannot be used as a scapegoat for their shortfalls and will either move to another colleague or another company where they can manoeuvre their way around until they are caught again.
3. Keep a trail
Most of the time, we don’t see a liar coming the first time around. We are programmed to the belief that we have the same goal and intentions at hand. Once you start questioning an individual's action, it is time to be vigilant to keep a paper trail, a communication line, as well as an alternative resolute, should the particular individual not deliver on their promises.
Is this the ideal way of working? No, not at all, but through my experience, one paper trail sets most of the records straight.
4. Don’t take it personally
Transparency is one of my core values, and the moment someone lies to me, my first reaction is to feel offended.
The reality is that we cannot affect or force anyone to lie - it is a direct reflection of who they are. You do not have any control over how people react, nor take responsibility for who they are.
I had a trusted team member when we worked for a chemical company, who was responsible for client credits on returnable empty container I would process the journal, forward all these names to her and she would be responsible for all the journals payouts. My name was signed on all the journals. Ten months later, an investigation revealed that she would change the account payout to her own on most of the clients (as the clients did not know they were entitled to these credits) and stole several thousand of rands from the company and the clients.
I took it personally: “how could she use my name to embezzle money?” You need to understand devious liars do not focus on who they are lying to, but on how they can get away with it.
5. No blame, no gain
Liars tend to blur the lines as well as shift the focus of the goals at hand. Stay focus on the desired outcome.
Besides, playing the blame game, they are experts in creating accomplices to divert the attention to them. By staying focused on the job at hand and the environment at the office, the liar cannot pull you into his/her drama, which in turn, will let them be exposed sooner.
I have found our work ethics and processes go where we lend our attention. Stay dedicated and lend it to your future career.
Lizette Volkwyn is a life coach and acclaimed author.