Lying for a Coworker

What to do if a coworker asks (or expects) you to lie on their behalf

By Freddie Rohner, iHire, LLC
Lying for a Coworker

Jane will be missing an important meeting to go shopping, but asked you to tell her supervisors that she’s sick.

Coworker relationships can be an interesting mix of associations ranging from friendly banter and comfortable collaboration to begrudging respect or outright hostility. But what should you do if someone you spend upwards of 8 hours a day with requests that you lie for them to the rest of the employees in the office?

Spotting a liar is one thing, but figuring out how to handle a colleague who is asking you to lie for them is a completely different animal. It can be difficult figuring out how to deal with a liar at work because resolving coworker issues often requires an extraordinary amount of consideration and tact. You always must remain mindful of the fact that you will have numerous future interactions with this person and will spend much of your time working alongside them for the foreseeable future. For this reason, the best advice is to politely decline to lie on this person’s behalf and tell them that you’re simply uncomfortable being dishonest with their superiors.

Depending upon your relationship with this person, you may want to take it a step further and counsel them on their commitment to their employer and their job. If this person is one of your close friends in the office then you owe it to them to provide some “tough love” and tell them their behavior is unprofessional and shouldn’t be tolerated. Feel free to also inform them that if anyone else in the office asks, you will not attempt to cover for them. However, if this is a person that you aren’t close with, the best strategy is to simply say “no.” There is no need to lecture an acquaintance about the decisions they’re making or tattle on them. All you need to do is remove yourself from the situation in the most efficient and delicate way possible.

People who engage in dishonesty or are prone to skipping work often get caught sooner rather than later, so it’s a good idea to make sure you don’t get stuck in the middle when they do. By refusing to join them in their deception, you may potentially lose an office friend but you will keep your integrity and, more importantly, your job.


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