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Liar Liar Karma On Fire!

One of the first full time jobs I had right after completing my Bachelor's degree at the University of Missouri was working for a Department of Labor funded project for the City of St. Louis.

Within a few short months I found myself promoted to supervisor with 10 people reporting to me, all older than me.  It was a little freaky and scary for a 23 year old.

(Image of fire from Martin Vojta - All Rights Reserved)

I asked my father, who had been in supervisory positions for most of his life, if he had any pearls of wisdom.

He told me the most important thing was for me to maintain my own boundaries, personality integrity and operate from a place of honesty and fairness.

I learned many lessons from my hard working dad, including always being on time, respecting my boss and elders as well as always being honest.  He used to say to me, honesty is always the very best policy.

My first month as a supervisor I had to learn some hard lessons.  I learned while I honored and valued absolute honesty, some of my team members didn't.  When that lesson presented itself the first time, I was honestly shocked.

One of the team members I supervised told me they had to take off three days from work because their mother had died suddenly.  I was horrified and felt incredibly bad for my new employee.  OF course I granted their time off with full pay request.

Until one of the other team members clued me in that the young woman in question either had a lot of mothers or the same mother who died about once a month, every month, I honestly felt bad for the woman whose mother had died.

(Image of Yin/Yang - Kriss Szkurlatowski - All Rights Reserved).

When confronted with this obvious mistruth, the employee looked me straight in the eye and lied to my face.  When she couldn't produce a copy of the appropriate documentation regarding her mother's death, she was fired by human relations.  Unbeknownst to me, she was on probation for  her long history of chronic tardiness and blatant lying.

My boss at the time told me not to feel bad about the termination.  After all, he explained, the terminated employee was an obvious "pathological liar."

Note: To read more about the definition of what makes a pathological liar (PL), check out Wiki.Answers.com

Since that first job experience, I have held many supervisory, management and executive positions.  One of the most challenging experiences I've had with employees over the years has been working with those who lied.  Lying is such an insidious disease that not destroys not only long term trust, but the very soul of the person who is lying.

It also makes it difficult to really form any type of long term, positive working relationship.

What I discovered throughout my career and dealing with pathological liars (PL), or "mythomaniacs," is that sometimes they may be suffering from histrionic or narcissistic personality disorder.

Even worse, it is difficult to manage or work on a team with a pathological liar because in many cases they "construct" a reality around themselves. They don't value the truth, especially if they don't see it as hurting anyone, even though it may be hurting everyone the lies touch.

If you call a pathological liar on a lie and they are backed into a corner, they will often act very defensively and say ugly things (most likely but it depends on the personality), but they may eventually start to act like, "well, what's the difference? You're making a big deal out of nothing!" (again, to refocus the conversation to your wrongdoing instead of theirs)."

Many times they will directly contradict what they say.  This will become very clear over time. Why?  Over time they often can't keep track of so many lies (who would be?).

Even worse, pathological liars might also:

- They believe what they say is true, when everyone else knows it isn't.

- Easily fools people at first but once they get to know the person, no one believes anything they ever say.  Ever.

- Has been caught in repeated lies.

- May launch an anger or rage attacks after they realize you're questioning their lies.

- Practice distraction techniques, e.g. hanging up the phone when you catch them in lie, playing word games, or even just running out of the room.

- After using the rage or distraction techniques, they will pretend that nothing ever happened. They re-write history, so it never did happen in their minds.

- Unmasking a pathological liar is an easier task when the pathological liar is no more than a casual or work acquaintance to the "un-masker." Close relationships provide camouflage for the pathological liar, and intimacy provides a heavily-fortressed breeding ground.

I have always believed in Karma and the theory that we reap what we sow.  I also believe that how a person acts in any situation is the building blocks of their karma.  How I react to their actions is my Karma.

Even more importantly I agree with Rick Springfield who said "Karma is not just about the troubles, but also about surmounting them."   Hopefully someday this PL or his family will help him surmount his troubles and triumph.

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