Is your boss lying to you?
I haven't had a direct conversation with my boss for awhile. A colleague was telling me yesterday that he hadn't spoken with him for some time either. We wondered what that meant.
Once upon a time, I didn't think about talking to my boss. I did my work and carried on. But in this time of corporate upheaval, many of us are more insecure about where we stand in the workplace. Talking to the person in charge often makes you feel better; they reassure you that despite the upheaval, your name hasn't appeared on any list yet.
If they tell you the truth, that is.
It seems that one of the skills that is necessary to managing people is being talented at evasion--answering without really answering in such a way that the employee feels satisfied that everything is okay, until they get to a quiet place and actually think about what their boss said, that is.
For example, my friend M wants a raise. She has documented why she thinks she deserves one. She has evidence that the tech company is still making money, despite going through some economic upheaval in recent years. She scheduled a lunch. Presented her proposal to her boss. Explained her point of view.
She was rewarded with a 10-minute speech about her virtues. "We really value you," her boss told her, before listing her virtues, punctuating some of her points by gesturing with perfectly manicured faux-red-nailed hands. Among M's virtues were her willingness to help others, her cooperative spirit, her giving nature, girlfriend told her, which translates to she had been willing for years to cover other people's behinds, work overtime without getting paid for it and not make waves while receiving no recognition or pay hikes for it.
"She listed all that stuff in the same tone that somebody uses when they tell you that the guy they are trying to hook you up with is 'really nice' when you ask what he looks like," M said over cheeseburgers and milk shakes the other day. "She was telling me how wonderful I was, but then she hit me with she'd really like to say she could give me a raise, but she'll have to get back to me about it because of how tight everything has been with the company's finances. Then she whipped out her corporate credit card, paid $50 for our sandwiches and tea, picked up her designer handbag, pulled on her designer gloves, threw her pashmina over her expensive suit, which looked new, by the way, and headed out the door." She sighed.
I have spent several hours and consumed thousands of calories trying to convince M that she shouldn't worry. We can't assume that just because her boss has good taste in clothing--I want a pashmina!--that she's lying about the raise. Maybe things are really that bad for the company. Things are at crisis stage for many. Though she and her colleagues have been hearing whispers about bonuses being passed out among supervisors, while employees are being denied pay increases, maybe its not true. Maybe everybody is being denied what should be theirs.
How can you tell if your boss is lying to you? How can you tell if anybody is lying to you? WebMD has some answers. In "10 Ways to Catch a Liar..." experts offer tips on how you can tell if someone is coming clean with you. There are apparently some telltale signs, like "inconsistencies in a story, behavior that's different from a person's norm, or too much detail in an explanation."
Like someone listing all your virtues over lunc, maybe?
"While using these signs to catch a liar takes extensive training and practice, it's no longer only for authorities...," the story said. "Now, the average person can become adept at identifying dishonesty, and it's not as hard as you might think."
Avis Thomas-Lester| October 7, 2010; 6:43 AM ET Save & Share:
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