Monday, September 10, 2012

Lies Can Make You Sick

I love the truth. It can be harsh or resolute, but it stands as a barricade against the goblins that dance with lies in your head.

If you tell the truth, you have clarity. You stand proud. You are stress-free. You never have to remember what you said because the truth is easy to recall.

Now comes a fascinating article by Chris Illiades, MD which proves my point —from another angle — about the importance of truth in communications. Dr. Illiades reports that lies affect more than reputation – they can also have a negative impact on our health and longevity. There is evidence, he says, that telling lies is associated with an increased risk of obesity, cancer, anxiety, depression and addiction; reduced work satisfaction, and poor relationships.

Lying is natural to humankind. No matter where in the world they live, for example, children all begin to tell lies at about the same age and for similar reasons (for example, to avoid getting into trouble). And history is filled with individuals — Bernie Madoff, Ted Bundy, Jason Blair...even Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, to name just a few — who have no problem lying and often get away with it for a while until the consequences hit.

In today's stressful and ever-changing business environment, trust is more elusive — and more essential — than ever before.

Nevertheless, I am not suggesting you be indiscreet. Sometimes it pays to delay the truth until the right moment. That can be done without lying. And then there is what I call a "smart white lie" that prevents hurt feelings. For instance, when your wife or significant other asks, "Does this outfit make me look fat?" the answer is rarely, if ever, “Yes.” (For more examples of “smart white lies,” check out "7 Times You Should Lie to a Woman," a column on the MadeMan website. It is written somewhat in jest. The site is a property of our client, Break Media.

As I have matured in the business world and in life in general, I have found that the answer always lies in the truth.

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