Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Office lies (2): Don’t expect your friends to cover-up for you, if your crime will make you better off than them.

My last blog post on office lies dwelt on one not expecting his colleagues to be lying friends when he has committed a punishable crime because they might get punished for it. It was emphasized that although friendship is important, propriety or the sense of duty lies above friendship. This piece will explain why, although your friends might not tell on you until asked, but where the possibility of punishment exists, they will surely bring you to book if they think your crime made you better off than them.

If you live in a lawless society, it is not surprising that people take laws into their hands when a criminal is caught. One of the reasons is that money confers political and social power on people. In lawless societies, giving such power to criminals is a dangerous thing. Sometimes, the police turn blind to such jungle justice.

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People behave in unreasonable ways when money is at stake. So, if after being engaged in wrongdoing and you expect your friends to cover-up for you, better make sure you did not gain any monetary benefit from your crime. If you did, it would instill a negative emotion on them that will draw up a desire to make sure you get punished. This is because they will compare the power and prestige your extra wealth would have conferred on you above theirs, and make sure you pay for it.

Would the criminal retaliate?

When one commits an office crime, he is trying to take advantage of others. Firms exist because of the transaction and production costs associated with providing goods and services for the greater public. People who work in such firms have agreed to live by a company rule and regulation, sacrificing their own personal gain - like working extra hours, going on training - in order to make sure the firm succeeds. By committing a crime, you are taking advantage of the generous sacrifices of your colleagues.

Yet, people do it all the time because they will gain material advantages over others. When found out, rather than get a sympathetic ear from friends, they get punished. Whether that punishment is accepted or the criminal retaliates in kind, depends on the society concerned. Where the society places law and order ahead of personal material gains, such criminals find it more difficult to retaliate. Hence they accept the punishment. Where the society is lawless, parochial or authoritarian, the criminals have found it easy to retaliate. Hence, people usually take matters into their hands. You can see why people hesitate to cooperate with a cheat or criminal? Because they violate corporate norms and where they are left unpunished, everyone suffers, most especially those who have sacrificed for the firm.

You should always make your friends know that you are going to stand up for them, both in and out of the office. That is what friendship stands for. Your cooperation has its limits though. By committing a crime, he is putting your means of livelihood at danger. If you have children to take care of, what kind of friendship is he promoting? One doubts if he can make such same sacrifice for you. No one wants to get fired because he wants to protect a precious friendship. You shouldn’t.

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Before you run to management though to report for a crime committed, better make sure you understand the values and the societal norms in your area. It might be your friend, or not, but what you should be interested in is that the firm’s interest and the interest of everyone, is well protected. If the criminal will not cooperate but is likely to retaliate in some other way, you should be very careful how you go about it. But if the cheat or criminal behaves more cooperatively, then you will have gained both a colleague and a friend.

To agree or not depends on you.

Sometimes, we lie for good causes. No one is debating the morality of a lie or not, rather what you should expect of your friends if you want them to cover-up for you in the office. If you are known to be a fighter for the common good, to have sacrificed yourself for the success of the firm, you could get a sympathetic ear; otherwise you will surely get punished, especially if money is involved. Remember, the world is a difficult place. People can be deceptive or manipulative because they are seeking material advantages over others.

When someone asks for you to help him from a wrong doing, whatever you chose to do, to help or have him punished, be careful of your decision. If you ask me, I’d make sure my decision was going to benefit the common good.

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

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