Trump and Lying in the Corporate World

The one thing I find most repellant about Donald Trump is that he shares a certain trait with some executives I have worked with professionally, a trait that has been my downfall more than once on the job.

For Trump and many others successful in business what you say is only as important as the effect it has when you say it. One moment Trump calls Cruz a liar, the next he says he’s a stand-up guy with a bright future. He doesn’t care which is true, only that the words he says help bring about the effect he hopes for in his audience. Similarly on the job, if someone wants your help, they tell you how great a worker you are, but when you make a mistake, you were a person they never trusted.

These types of people are very successful in the business world. Often as much as we might like to think otherwise there really is little accountability. These folks can see when things are going poorly and they just make plans to go elsewhere. It’s too big a world to know the insides of what they really did in the past, and the business culture is one of never saying anything really bad for fear it will come back to bite you later. Thus, scoundrels and liars are allowed to bullshit their way through life with little repercussion.

People often exacerbate this problem. No one who supports Trump want’s to pay attention to how full of shit he has been in the past, or even is at the moment. The message he spouts sounds attractive, they want to believe it, and so they do, and they ignore anything which might cast doubt on it. Same goes in business. There is rarely any reward for someone who brings the board of directors bad news so people bend over backwards to make everything look like sunshine and roses even though they know it’s a lie. Nor faced with good news does anyone look for flaws, why look the gift horse in the mouth?

Is it the fault of the professional liars or those who are so eager to support their lies? I’m not sure myself. Many of those lied to are unsuspecting but I’ve worked with folks who agree X is a lie but would never speak out on it knowing it will only end poorly for them. And they are right, yet if you do nothing but accept lies, then lies you will get in spades forever. Even worse if you reward the liars, you will be buried in them.

Trump is almost the ultimate test in this regard. If we elect this turkey then we are a nation of no accountability what so ever. We will swallow any pile of BS a talented artist  of lies wishes to send our way. We will have abandoned reason for hope and desire of pure fantasy. While Clinton has some of these same hallmarks, you can at least see her struggle sometimes with being earnest and saying things that will sell and she tries not to outright lie whenever possible (as witnessed by her truth meter ratings). She seems to care while still realizing that compleat earnestness can simply fail in broad politics.

There are of course near entirely earnest politicians such as Bernie Sanders and there are earnest business leaders I’ve met and worked with. I commend them and am doubly impressed by their success at following what I think is a more difficult but personally fulfilling path. And for all of you out there fond of calling bullshit when you see it, cheers to you for making the world a better place.

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