January 31st, 2008

Useless white lies

The one thing I do not understand are transparent lies when they are not required. Building expecations and promising things when it would be much better to just say it will be delayed, or cannot be done.

Instances of this small thing is rampant in India. Its like the upper end of the Indian mentality of not saying "no". Like the shopkeeper who will say "Sorry, the last one just got sold". yeah sure!
Or the guy who says "Oh, Ill send it across today!" and then say "its in the courier office, will get dispatched tomorrow" Hey! it doesnt help. Id rather have you tell me that you will send it tomorrow evening and then send it today morning.
A very small thing, that can ruin your expectations and image of the other person. What they do not understand is, its a lie, where it is not needed. I am not against lying. No one human cannot not lie. Even animals do it. Lying comes from shame, from a need to escape embarrasment and sometimes from setting standards you are out to achieve ('I have a home theater system' when you have planned the purchase and WILL do it, just not now, maybe in a month, maybe even placed the order).
Simple white lies are also good enough. How are you? Just fine! when you are obviously unwell. Where were you? Out. When infact you had just decided not to answer the phone or mail, or anything.

But white lies which are misleading and unnecessary can get my goat. When there is no need for you to overpromise, why do it? If the client is giving you 3 months, why do you want to promise delivery in one month - and then delay it to 3? Wouldnt it be better to agree to the 3 months, or bring it down to a conservative 2, and deliver on time? That way the client can also plan his part of the process and not over-expect.

Usually I keep a buffer for just this when dealing with the self-employed merchants in India - the small desi businesses. However,sometimes its just not possible. And then, I end up flabbergasted...to say the least.
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