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Monday, November 19, 2012

Office lies (1): Don’t expect your friends to cover-up for you, if they will lose something of value.


Friendship is a human social need. It is a part of what makes us alive. That is why wherever human societies thrive, the need to return favors, to give something back when someone has extended favors, is a principle we imbibe in our children. This principle is called reciprocity. It is the principle that Jesus was enunciating when he told his disciples that “there is more in giving than in receiving.”

More interestingly, humans do not show any bias in giving. We can give for infinite reasons, and sometimes, to complete strangers who have done nothing for us in the past, just because we feel happy doing so.

On the other hand, what would you do if a friend, because he has been covering up for you, suddenly asks you to lie for him in the office when he discovers that a crime he committed might be discovered? Would you reciprocate his past favors, and lie, so that he does not get punished?

Avoid getting used for the sake of friendship.

We might reason that for friendship, we can stand up for our friends. It might be no big deal to lie for friendship, because everyone does it to grease the friendship ego. On the other hand, where the crime is a grave offense that breaches a major company policy, then such friendship is put under the mirror. As humans, where you sense foul play, that an individual is trying to use you to maximize his own benefits at the office, you get disappointed. According to some researchers, reciprocal giving amongst humans is a natural benefit maximizing exchange. This need makes us to extend ourselves for strangers without counting past favors before extending help to them.

How disappointing it would be if someone, disguising as a friend, decides to commit a crime with the hope that you would cover his back, and a criminal offense at that? Many persons have faced this situation. Because they decided to stick for what is right, they lost a friend. They’d rather not be a lying friend. What would you have done?

The devil is in their smile. Credit: Flickr.com, Mathew_Roberts
Well, most times, where returning favors for a friend would result in a loss, whether of reputation or prestige, never expect them to cover up for you. You will surely get disappointed. Be careful also that you do not jeopardize your future by willfully committing crimes.

Past favors might be useless when the chips are down.

Never count on your friends covering up for your crime if they cannot vouch for your past actions. That would be foremost on their minds. Be ready to face the consequences. If your trust level is not that highly ranked, you will surely get disappointed when your own friend hands you over to the police. Never even expect your supposed friend to lie for you in the office if his reputation is at stake. He built that reputation with the sweat of his teeth. Your friendship would count for nothing. You might be taking a huge risk counting on them. He might dissociate from your friendship, calling you a deceptive person, or classing you as someone of low integrity, who from the starting blocks was not worthy of his friendship.

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Friendship takes account of past favors if a loss is in view. Has your history in the office being above board? Is this crime something you could not avoid, maybe because your wife just gave birth and you needed the money badly for hospital bills, or for some other emergency? If you want to have the back of your friends, make sure they do not feel they are going to lose anything by helping you out. Make sure that you have built up a history of standing up for them in the past; doing so, you would be putting money into a bank account. If you really need them to lie for you, which no one encourages, you should make sure that the trouble you are faced with was committed because you were trying to do something proper and dignified, and was beset with unforeseen circumstances such that the crime that was committed was humanely possible for anyone in such-same situation.

That does not mean that they would lie for you. It would only help to make them comfortable with being your friends. Do not allow them to think you are deceptive and manipulative; you would be committing another crime. Propriety has more value than friendship.

No one wants to be a criminal by association.

It is an ugly habit to lie. On the other hand, we are ready to lie to cover up small mistakes. But do you know that small mistakes can build up to a habit that you fall into a pattern of lying because a friend knows your weak spot? Never think of lying as an option. If you have to tell a lie, make sure you believe that it is for the common good, both for your friendship and for the profit of the company that employed both of you. Ask yourself why that friend had to wait until the possibility of being exposed exists before he made you aware of the crime? It is a terrible thing to be in a manipulative relationship.

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Always remember that any crime, whether minor or major, could make you get prosecuted. So, be very careful. Do not hoodwink yourself about friendship such that you have to suffer for a crime. Many persons have found themselves disappointed when their friends would have no part in their crime.

While we never pray that our friends make us criminals by association, it is important that if a friend is in the habit of asking for small favors in order to cover up his or her back, you should reconsider that friendship. He could be setting the stage for something major; you could end up the fall guy. Always insist on truthfulness. The truth will set you free, both at the office and for the sake of friendship.

In the second part of this blog series on office lies, I will be writing on why you should not count on your friends lying for a crime committed if they thought the crime helped you gain a little material advantage.


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