My Boss Expects Me To Lie. I Don’t!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about lying.

I’m an Administration Assistant for a law firm. My boss doesn’t like the term “not available.” He would prefer I tell callers he is “not here” or “in a meeting” when he chooses not to take a call.I cannot do that. I do not lie. How can I get around this without offending him and still be able to handle the front desk? Are there other terms beside “not available” I can use? Thank you

Signed, Can’t Do That

Dear┬áCan’t Do That:

This is common practice in law firms. The term “not available” covers a “multitude of sins” as my late mother used to say. It’s an all-purpose phrase for not taking a call. I am surprised the superior finds it objectionable. I can understand the assistant not wanting to straight out lie, and therefore it’s a judgment call that could jeopardize her position, to be honest.

However, I’d suggest trying to find a common phrase acceptable to both that deals with the reality of the situation. The assistant could certainly express her discomfort at telling an out an out lie, and suggest, therefore, that maybe another term be used, i.e., “he’s stepped away from his desk, can I have him return the call later? Hope this helps.”

Bonnie Jordan, Attorney and Guest Respondent The Workplace Doctors suggests. “Possibly, another way you can avoid lying or deceit by simply saying up front, “May I have your name and number and anything you want me to tell him? Attorney John Smith will return calls as soon as he can.” It is good that you do not want to misrepresent what is true. That is important to WEGO mindedness and in the long run to a society that deeply hungers for being able to trust what people say.

William Gorden