Liar, Liar Pants on Fire!


Little white harmless lies, evasive poser lies, big hairy stinkin’ lies, we are all lied to more than we realize. Especially in the workplace, where we’re surrounded by coworkers, colleagues, and competitors trying to claw their way up the same mountain. No matter what industry you work in, you will probably come up against at least one of the most common office lies at some point in your career. Remember, forewarned is forearmed!

1. The Screw Over – A lie designed to halt a colleague’s progress and irreparably damage his or her career, thereby improving the liar’s chances for greatness. The liar gets a huge emotional high off of this one, so watch out.

2. The Look Good – A show-off lie used to make a good impression among colleagues, typically a boss. The Look Good is often combined with The Screw Over for a one-two punch – and a master liar will throw in a Payback just for good measure. Way to kick you when you’re down.

3. The Payback – A “get even” lie used to punish colleagues who may or may not have wronged the liar. Paybacks are common because those who may not otherwise resort to lying feel justified in telling Payback lies. After all, they “deserved it.” Paybacks also lead to a rat’s nest of lies, where one Payback follows another until the situation spirals out of control.

4. Gossip Fever – A lie or a series of lies spread for the sheer excitement of telling a story and sharing the “latest” updates. Gossip is rampant in the workplace, where most people view it as innocent fun, yet underneath the lie is a desire to gain favor with colleagues by seeming “in the know.” Most people have indulged in Gossip Fever at some point in their careers. Even you.
5. The Telephone Game – An untruth that is a contortion of the facts, where the liar simply passes on false information that he or she believes to be true. It’s a simple case of crossed wires and misunderstandings. Unless you’re dealing with a professional liar, who will use The Telephone Game to their advantage, spreading a mix of lies throughout a social group in order to destroy the victim’s reputation. Think dirty politics, or worse – think high school.

You can’t stop the liars from lying, but you can reign in your own storytelling so you never end up in a Payback spiral, caught up in Gossip Fever, or lost in The Telephone Game. Besides, it’s much more satisfying to get to the top of that mountain on your own merits. And you’re less likely to get pushed off.

- Mike

Mike Michalowicz is the author of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, available on and at