It’s reasonable to confess a lie to your boss. However, will your boss get better or worse after knowing the truth? This is the question to ask yourself. So, try assessing if there is any danger of them finding out and determine how you can get out of it before informing them. Generally, if a confession will make someone happy, relieve their suffering, or help them get out of negative circumstances, you should go ahead with it. If the lie has to do with something your boss can no longer control and will make them feel terrible, bury yourself with it.
A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.
– William Blake
How to confess a lie to your boss
Confessing to a lie can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially when it concerns your boss. Nevertheless, do the following:
1. Be remorseful
Just show remorse and accept responsibility for your actions. However, there will be no more excuses or lies and you have to learn your lesson.
A simple “Sorry” is more than just words. It means respect for the other person’s feelings—per KidsHealth®— and offers you a chance to be honest, humble, and act with integrity.
Begin with an apology. You could say, “I’m sorry I wasn’t honest about what happened.” Make sure your apology is genuine and conveys your regret.
3. Explain why you lied
Explain why you lied (be brief about it without long drawn out excuses) and promise never to lie again. Accept that it could take longer before you earn the trust again. Unfortunately, depending on your offense, it could take even longer to regain trust.
4. Explain any immediate plans
If an issue needs to be addressed right away, make sure your boss knows what you intend to do and when you intend to do it. Suppose it concerns a client’s call, you could say, “I’d like to discuss the approach I should take on the client call.” These few sentences reassure your boss of how you intend to resolve the situation.
Listening does not mean you should put up with harassment or other violent responses from your boss. You don’t deserve to face excessively harsh responses simply because you acknowledged doing something wrong. If your boss responds adversely, apologize once more for lying and leave the situation as soon as you can.
That said, allow your boss to express their thoughts to you regarding your confession and how they hope to develop your relationship. Your boss is entitled to say as little or as much as they like now that you have finished speaking.
Tell the person you understand they need time to process everything and that you two can talk about it later after they have. Before everything is said and done, there might need to be a few discussions concerning the lie.
6. Find a mediator
Consider a mediator. It could be your boss’ friend or a professional to help you admit your mistake and apologize in person. This should only be the case if you are concerned that you won’t be able to manage your emotions or lead the conversation.
7. Never do that again
Never, ever, ever do that again when you come clean. You could lose your job as a result of a lie. Moreover, you may have harmed your credibility and integrity at your workplace. It also helps to make sure your boss understands how you intend to handle similar situations in the future.
Perhaps you shouldn’t confess at all
Perhaps, anyone urging you to confess has no stake in the matter and is merely acting as a signal. If it’s a lose-lose situation of your own making, don’t confess. Your confession may attract no sympathy than if you don’t. Let’s say you lied about your background. Does your boss intend to thoroughly investigate each employee’s background? Think about how many man-hours that would require, and who will perform it.
You have no way of knowing whether they will learn about your lies, even if they conduct a comprehensive background check. You do have the benefit of the doubt up until you confess, but once you do, it goes away. You can say you filled it out incorrectly because you were fatigued, you wanted to say something else, or you accidentally gave them your “test” resume rather than the real one if your boss can figure out your lie, which they may never. There are countless reasons you might give, but only if you don’t confess.
Nothing good comes to those who confess in some cases at work.
Let me tell you a friend’s story:
On one employment application, he misrepresented his criminal record. A few days later, they called to let him know that everything appeared to be in order, EXCEPT for the “criminal record”.
He knew that was it right away, but was baffled as to why they had called. He questioned if it was really necessary to speak at that time. However, he was told that all they need him to do was procure an official copy of his criminal record and deliver it to the company for review. He spent $50, a trip to the police station, new photographs, and had his fingerprints taken. A few days later, the issue was resolved.
Ultimately, it’s wise to never intentionally lie to your boss. If you have an open line of communication between you and your boss, feel comfortable discussing any topic with them to reduce the need for lies in the first place.
If you feel the need to confess a lie to your boss simply because it will help you win an argument, or make the other person hate you, perhaps you shouldn’t do it. Rethink your motivations and consequences.