How to respond to deceit/lying in a professional setting? - Professionals lying in order to save face after unprofessional behavior.
After moving to NYC from Scandinavia, my (American) wife and I have repeatedly faced situations in which clever, well-educated, and succesful people try to make me (or her) responsible for their own mistakes by lying or being deceitful. Most of the time, people either forget to do something they promised, they think they are too busy/important to listen to me (her) and thus misinterpret something, or are simply lazy. One example of many:
An HR-person has suggested a date for my job interview. I reply and ask for a more precise time and location. She never gets back to me. The date of the scheduled interview comes, and I assume she has blown me off and does not want me to show up at all. She then emails me, asking why I did not show up. I respond kindly that she has not confirmed with me, and I do not even know the address, precise time, location or anything.
She claims to have sent a confirmation email with details, and states that it must have ended up in my junk mail. I have added her to my preferred sender list, and my junk mail is empty. It does not auto-delete. So, I know she is lying.
We have been thinking how to respond to these incidents. We talked about this issue, and realized that
accepting this kind of behavior by personally accepting blame and (saying that I missed the email, when I did not) is degrading and mentally unhealthy in the long run. If I do this, I essentially let people treat me as their personal dumping ground. Still, this is an easy way out, but may also cause professional problems later on.
stating explicitly that I have taken care of my part flawlessly, and that the person in question is lying, always makes people furious. They really get mad, and many times start yelling and freaking out. Still, it is personally tempting, as it is inherently wrong to even implicitly blame other people for your own mistakes. Further, confronting the liar openly is psychologically sound, as it is likely to lessen lying and I don’t let him/her to push me. However, it can really burn bridges.
There is a middle ground by responding that my email works fine (she is white listed, and my junk mail is empty). Then, the problem must be in her email
system. This is a softer approach to confront the liar. Still, we both felt a little bit shitty afterwords, as this approach is essentially playing the liar’s game, and the liars have a tendency to be crabby about this response.
* * *
What kind of strategies do you use to mitigate these kinds of issues in your everyday life?
What is the socially ”correct way” (according to good manners) to behave in this situation? Especially if it is a job/professionally related situation.
What is the logic of the liar? From our standpoint, it is more respectable to admit one’s mistake, as it is simply human and everybody makes mistakes, than lose trust and seem like a total jerk by lying and getting caught immediately. For example, how come a Harvard etc. grad (or someone with extremely high qualifications in their field) can be so naive that he/she believes he/she can get away with that?
Other thoughts? Do we just have to learn to suck it up? Or, how do we get past other people trying to dump the responsibility of the mess they have created/their own faults or lack of organization into our laps?
We saw this already