Hi everybody, this is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. This is a hard question.
I am a well paid leader in a successful company. My boss is a flat out liar. In fact, he manipulates the facts so radically that I sometimes find myself wondering if I have the facts wrong. A person that works for us is getting treated completely unfairly financially and the reasoning my boss gives is a flat out lie. It makes me crazy to sit by and watch it happen. I feel like a traitor not to confront it, but I have no power or control. Do you have any thoughts on how I can navigate this difficult situation?
There are several telltale signs in your question I think you want to pay attention to. First of all, you said, “I have no power or control”. That’s first, pay attention to that. Then I want you to pay attention to the sentence “My boss is a flat out liar.” I understand, I’ve been around flat out liars who were so good at it that I was thinking maybe I was crazy. It’s somebody else that’s getting treated completely unfairly, so I’m unclear about why YOU feel like a traitor.
So, the first question I would ask you is this. If your boss is a flat out liar, and you’re a well-paid leader in a successful company, why do you work for that boss still? I’m not judging, I’m just asking you to consider the possibility that your well-paid leadership job is causing you to swallow hard and turn away from the ugliness of a boss who’s a flat out liar. You don’t say he lies sometimes. If you are working for a flat out liar, I would be less concerned about your colleague, friend, or whoever that person is that’s being treated unfairly financially (not that I don’t want you to care) and I’d be more concerned about what’s going on with you that you work for a person who’s a flat out liar. Particularly if those lies affect you.
The second point that I think is important is that you say “It makes me crazy to sit by and watch it happen, I feel like a traitor not to confront it.” You can confront it, but you better have a backdrop because here’s the thing about flat out liars: they’re going to lie about lying. It’s called secondary neurosis – they lie about being liars. So, I think you’re in a little bit of a trap and you need to really evaluate.
So, here’s the simple answer. First thing, evaluate your own investment and reason that you are as engaged in this process as you are. Why are you working for a liar? Maybe you’re coming up close to your retirement, I don’t know. The second thing is if you choose to confront it, the only way you can really do that is to go with confusion (when it affects you directly).
Recently, I was talking to somebody, a prospective client of mine, and I know for a fact that the story they told me about the situation that they find themselves in is absolutely untrue. Now, do I think that person IS a liar? No. Do I think they lied to me to position my counsel in a certain way? Yes. And here’s how I used confusion, I’m just sharing with you what I do. I said “You know, I’m confused, because the data that I was looking at and the information that you’ve shared with me tell a different story than the story you’re telling me now. So what I’d like us to do is sync up those facts and see if we can come to a conclusion.” Didn’t call them a liar, didn’t say I think you’ve misunderstood or got your facts wrong, I didn’t do any of that. I just said what I observed and then asked to be able to interact.
The final thing you said was that you have no power or control over the situation. I want you to get clear that you have no power over the situation. So that means you want to disengage from the emotional content that you clearly have in this question by stepping back and focusing on the things you DO have control over.
Let me wrap it up with the thing I started with – it’s time to do a self-inventory about your engagement with a boss who you believe to be and apparently gives you evidence to believe is a flat out liar.
I hope that’s helpful!
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