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Lying is Not a Sustainable Strategy

May 10, 2018

The explosion of lies by public officials is unbelievable. Its proliferation is completely unacceptable for a civilized people, yet it has become acceptable and is now considered business as usual. I don’t have any answer except that we need to call to account every instance of this shameful behavior and if not publicly then at least to keep it in our minds to be considered if we ever have a chance to act on this knowledge.

I included a chapter on this in my Power Bites book and want to post that chapter here. This is Chapter 18 in my short book of 48 chapters.

Never Lie

Your boss shows you her newly designed corporate logo that cost $182,000 to produce and asks your opinion about what you think of it. You really think it stinks. What do you say?

Your reputation is the most valuable thing you have when you deal with people. Building that reputation takes a lifetime. One false step can shatter it. You must protect it with everything you have. One fib, one falsehood, one sentence less than the complete truth in a volume of remarks, one slip, however unconscious, can doom that reputation. Scrupulously guard your reputation. Never lie!

Telling your boss that you think the new logo is very, very, very interesting is a fine way of getting out of what could be a very embarrassing situation—and is a factually correct statement! Perhaps the blunt truth is more appropriate—as long as it is said in private and framed as your “uninformed” opinion.

There is a credibility threshold for most people and things. At some point, if it is crossed, you can’t get it back. This applies to governments and its leaders, parents and children, and in business situations. If you cross that threshold, you lose respect for yourself, for your company or organization, and for what you are trying to accomplish. If you have credibility, you don’t have to be well liked to get your points across. If you don’t have credibility, you can never be well liked, and you will never get your points across. You cross the threshold when you lie or hide or cover up the truth!

Someone lied to me when I was fourteen years old, and I never forgot it. A large and well-known stamp dealer offered, at a special guaranteed price if he received payment in advance, a set of stamps honoring the marriage of Grace Kelly to Prince Rainier. When the set was issued, he did not honor the price. I received a letter telling me the price would be higher. I don’t remember what I did, but I remembered that the stamp dealer lied in his advertisements, and I never bought from him again. He claimed a reputation for integrity. I know differently!

Reprinted from Power Bites: Short and to the Point Management, Leadership and Lifestyle Advice I Give My Clients! by Edward Mendlowitz, CPA ©2010. Available for sale at and

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