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Lying, Unethical Executives: Is This How They Get Started?


Studies show collegiate liars and cheats make for dishonest, corner-cutting employees.

Who Is Lying in Your Workplace?

David Larcker and Anastasia Zakolyukina of Stanford's Graduate School of Business released a study in 2010, entitled "Detecting Deceptive Discussions in Conference Calls," for which they studied 30,000 conference calls. They documented the below five tendencies to detect lying (as per Psychology Today).

1. Lack of specifics. Liars tend to speak in general terms, using descriptive terms like "fantastic." and tended to shy away from actual information about the workplace's bottom line.

2. Exaggeration. Liars tended to speak in superlatives, shying away from phrases like "good."

3. Choice of speech. Liars were shown to use third person, and avoided the "I" construction.

4. Clarity of thought. Liars were less likely to pause in speaking, employing fewer "ums" and "ahs."

5. Increased swearing. Liars simply let loose more curses. One famous example was when Enron's Jeff Skilling called a questioner an "a**hole" after he challenged Skilling's assessment of Enron's financial conditions early last decade.
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