Caught Red Handed? How to Deal With Your Boss (Or Anyone) When You're Caught in a Lie
Work + Life Balance

Caught Red Handed? How to Deal With Your Boss (Or Anyone) When You're Caught in a Lie

LEARN TO OVERCOME YOUR MISTAKE AND FORGE AHEAD, HONESTLY AND CONSTRUCTIVELY. 

Being caught in a lie can be both uncomfortable and embarrassing. But there is a way to bounce back. Take a moment to process what happened, but do not wallow in self-pity. Put your big girl pants on and prepare to overcome this misfortune.

Take a deep breath and follow these simple steps to make amends:

ADMIT YOU TOLD A LIE

One of the worst decisions you can make after being caught in a lie is telling additional lies to cover it up. Admitting the truth about lying will gain you some respect and a little bit of extra grace with your boss—or whoever is calling you out. {Click to Tweet}

It may be hard to admit you lied for fear of ruining your reputation—however, nothing ruins a reputation quicker than being known as a chronic liar. My mother used to say that you have to tell a bigger lie to cover the first. I've found this to be true. The hole you are digging keeps getting bigger as you continue to lie and, eventually, you end up buried in it.

It may be hard to admit you lied for fear of ruining your reputation—however, nothing ruins a reputation quicker than being known as a chronic liar. 

Related: How to Recover From a Work Mistake 

COME CLEAN WITH THE TRUTH

Do not simply admit that you lied and leave it at that. You need to follow it up with the truth, no matter how ugly or embarrassing it may be. Take a deep breath and just come out with it. You may find that the truth isn't as poorly received as you thought it would be.

DON'T MAKE LIGHT OF THE LIE

Regardless of the size of the lie, a lie is a lie is a lie! If you brush it off as if it isn't a big deal, your superior may have a more difficult time forgiving you. Sure, taking a sick day off and getting caught leaving the nail salon may not be as frowned upon as missing an important deadline and angering a top client, but being caught red-handed in both incidents will have the same impact on your credibility. Avoid sugarcoating the situation or making comments like, “All I did was…” Acknowledge the fault in the decision you made. {Click to Tweet}

COMMIT TO TELLING THE TRUTH MOVING FORWARD

After you come clean about the situation, make a commitment to tell the truth from that point forward.

After you come clean about the situation, make a commitment to tell the truth from that point forward. 

Verbally make a commitment to your boss about being honest in the future. And don't stop there either. The best way to rebuild your tarnished reputation after being caught in a lie is to show them you are trustworthy by letting your actions demonstrate your commitment.

If you got caught taking an extended lunch, make sure you arrive back from lunch a few minutes earlier in the future. If you lied and missed an important deadline, develop a new, self-imposed deadline of a few days earlier than your boss expects from you. Take extra steps to do more than you were called on to do before.

Related: How to Robot-Proof Your Job

ACCEPT THE FACT THAT YOU WILL HAVE TO EARN TRUST AGAIN

You probably wish that the lie would just vanish into thin air, but that won't be the case. Embrace the fact that you may be under scrutiny for a while. What you say and what you do will probably be doubted or double-checked. But that’s okay, because with good faith and effort—and a lot of accountability on your part—your situation will improve over time.

With good faith and effort—and a lot of accountability on your part—your situation will improve over time.

DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP!

You must forgive yourself for your mistake. Sometimes, we are more tough on ourselves than others are. Sooner or later, everyone is guilty of telling a blatant lie, a lie of omission, or a little “white” lie. You are not the first and you will not be the last, so don’t dwell on it!

Invest your energy in correcting the situation and re-establishing trust. {Click to Tweet

This too shall pass.