The workplace presents us with awkward situations every day.  One of our most challenging is when we know our boss is not telling the truth.


If we are in the uncomfortable position of having to defend his/her falsehood, then we are caught in a bind. Recently we witnessed President Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer, defending some of the President’s opinions that had little supportive data. Kellyanne Conway’s public defense of her boss’ “alternative facts” has now gone viral.

Whether or not you agree with their defense or with the original premise is not important here. This is NOT a political article. What is important is that we may all be in a situation one day when we know that our boss is not telling the truth or is purposefully withholding the facts. These facts may be important for the future of your company; potentially influencing key decisions that need to be made. The falsehood can have serious implications if others adopt it as fact and build a business argument around its flawed premise.

What do you do when you are in such a situation?

First of all, do your homework. Collect all the facts and build your case. Make sure that you have a sound footing from which to challenge a false statement.

Next ask yourself some important questions.

How strong is your relationship with your boss? If you have a strong relationship with your boss and you know you have earned his/her respect, then addressing the issue directly in a one on one conversation is the optimal way to handle the situation. Don’t get emotional. Present the facts. Give them the opportunity to change positions.

If your boss makes a false statement in a meeting, you might suggest to everyone at the next appropriate time that taking a break is a good idea. Use that break to speak with your boss about his/her statements. And ask them, given the facts, how they would like to proceed going forward. This shows them respect and gives them the option of modifying their stance. If they are determined to go forward with their original false statement, you can then let them know that you will be presenting evidence to the contrary.

If taking a break is not an option then state the facts clearly as you understand them. Don’t let your ego get in the way. You can be passionate about speaking the truth but don’t get emotional as that detracts from your perceived power. Present your argument and then work to build consensus later if nothing is resolved during the course of the meeting.

Next question to ask yourself is how secure is your status in the company?

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