January 05, 2010

Embellished Truth

"If you add to the truth, you subtract from it."

The Talmud
(click on image to enlarge)

Everyone exaggerates something sometime.

Everyone, and if somehow that turns out not to be true, at least I just did.

What is the impact on our business decisions when we exaggerate?


  1. The impact depends on the intent, the nature of the decision and what's at stake. Obviously some things are more important than others.

    But I would guess you are talking about major exaggerations, possibly even outright lies.

  2. Not really (talking about the size of the exaggeration.) In fact I guess I am more interested in the little to middle stuff.

    We all know that lies, big ones in particular, are not acceptable, but what about the smaller things that get "stretched" in the telling?

    And now that I think about this more, this post is using language like "exaggerations" and "embellishments" while previous ones talked about lies.

    Is there a difference and if so, in what ways? Are certain "exaggerations" acceptable? How about certain "lies"?

    Concrete example. You are the CEO in a struggling company and you tell you employees, all of which know the company is in trouble, "we may get a deal that could really turn things around."

    Are there stated or implied specifics in that which could ultimately be a lie or is the fact that you weren't specific, enough to keep you truthful?

  3. Nothing stated but people in those situations tend to substitute "will" for "may" and act accordingly. If as the CEO you know there is little or no chance of getting the deal, you are at best exaggerating, at worst lying and how bad that is depends on what people do based on what you told them. And if you really didn't know how likely it is you will get the deal, you are guilty of not being honest enough, first with yourself, second with the employees.