Lots of times, people paint themselves into a corner so that they find no other recourse but to lie to get out of it. A guy told me, “I had to lie because I didn’t have any other choice.” But he sure had a choice–and it was to paint himself into a corner. Naturally, lying was the only way out. He shouldn’t have touched the paintbrush in the first place. After painting yourself into a corner, then you have no choice.
When people ask me about this, I tell them–don’t touch the brush!
In other words, whatever led you into having no choice but to lie–you should’ve avoided doing it at all cost. If we’re not disciplined, we’re bound to do or say a lot of things we shouldn’t be doing or saying. Often, we look for “extras” to please people with. Instead of just doing or saying enough, we look for bonuses to get people’s favors. We love appreciation too much, and that gets us into trouble and make us lie–and we think the lie is necessary or negligible because anyway we get people’s pats on our backs.
Are the pats worth the lie?
What does it profit a man if gains the whole world but loses his soul?
So, how do we avoid touching the paintbrush in the first place? I have some suggestions:
Be precise: It takes powerful discipline to be precise. It’s hard but it’s possible. From now on, practice doing or saying only what’s needed. Some medical doctors do it. Diplomats do it. They’d just give you what they think you need. No more, no less. If someone asks you a question answerable by yes or no, just answer yes or no. Don’t feel obligated to explain. Well, you may give a bonus or two if you’re asked for some explanations, but you don’t need to, unless it’s a life or death situation or the authorities command you to. Some people say a lot even if they’re not supposed to, unwittingly painting themselves into a corner. Then they realize it too late and try to get out by telling lies.
I’m not saying you have to limit yourself to just 3 to 5 words per conversation. I say you talk just enough, and “just enough” is, of course, contextual. Apply wisdom here.
Don’t please people: Do your job well because you know the Lord is watching you, not because you want to please people. Do this even in business. If you please the Lord, people may follow suit–but not always. At least, you please the Lord. If you do your job to please God, you become precise. You don’t say anything more than you should. Often, it’s what you say when there’s nothing else to say (but you feel you should say something) that serves as a trap. The moment you say something extra just to please people, that’s when you touch the paintbrush. And when you touch it, you often paint all the way, and you find it’s hard to stop.
Be consistent: Sometimes, for giving good service, we may do more than we should. For instance, a food crew is asked for ketchup and he also brings the hot sauce, gravy, and mayonnaise along to give good service. If he chooses to do this, he should be consistent with all his customers.
Get this tip–if you have nothing more to say, stop. How would customers get to like you if you’re like that in business? Well, you may not realize it, but many people like honest men better than those who tend to flatter them.