How to Catch a Lying Boss


When you suspect that your boss might be lying in general work-related situations, such as about something a coworker said, watch for signs of dishonesty. Keep your guard up, and consider confronting him about the lies if they negatively affect your work responsibilities. If your boss's lies include fraudulent behavior, tax evasion or criminal activity, don't try to catch him on your own. Contact senior management, and consult licensed attorneys to ensure law enforcement agencies get involved.

Observe Word Choices

  • Pay close attention to your boss's choice of words. If she frequently uses extreme adjectives to describe situations, such as "outstanding" or "fabulous" instead of "good," she might be lying, according to a Stanford University Graduate School of Business study, as reported in "The Economist." The authors found that dishonest managers often talk in the third person and use vulgarities when questioned or confronted. Look for limited eye contact, fidgeting and uneasiness to accompany deceitful word choices.

Document Conversations

  • Document exchanges you have with your boss and conversations you overhear firsthand. Keep copies of email and correspondence from your boss that raise flags about his honesty. Don't rely on hearsay, and keep your own dated documents to back accusations. Bosses who have something to cover up often profess their supposed honesty in insincere ways. A dishonest boss might say, "I swear on the Bible that I wasn't involved," or "The absolute truth is I know nothing about this," explains Pamela Meyer, author of "Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception," on CBS MoneyWatch.

Look for Inconsistencies

  • Evaluate your boss's tone when he addresses questions. A dishonest boss often uses an emotional tone that doesn't fit the situation. For example, your boss might use a calm, monotone voice when responding to your question about a bonus at the end of the year. Saying, "You should get a big bonus" with a lack of enthusiasm might suggest dishonesty -- an excitable tone would normally accompany that answer. You also might catch your boss in a lie if his answer seems rehearsed, as though he's already practiced his response, says organizational psychologist and Stanford University professor Bob Sutton in "Psychology Today."

Restate Avoided Questions

  • Don't let your boss get away with lying when she tries to avoid your questions. Make sure that her answer fits your question and that she doesn't try to change the subject. Liars often hide their dishonesty by redirecting questions back at you, says Dan Crum, former polygraph examiner, CIA special investigator and author of the book "Is He Lying To You?," on CBS MoneyWatch. Catch your boss in a lie by saying, "You haven't answered the question I asked you."

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