Falsely Accused of Lying

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctor about accusation of lying:

If someone at work wrongly accuses you of being a liar, can anything be done about it?

Signed, Truthful

Dear Truthful:

Whether or not you can do (or want to do) anything substantial about the accusation, will depend upon the situation and where you work. For example, if you are in a large business and someone made that statement, in a meeting, that you are a liar, you probably could make a complaint with HR or with your own manager about it. But, if you are in a small business and in the course of an argument someone says, “You’re such a liar”, it would probably be viewed as just something else that was said in the argument, but not significant.

Or, if you were told by someone else that a person accused you of lying, that would probably be viewed as just gossip that doesn’t matter to most people. One thing you can do is to make sure the accusation is not true and that no one would believe it to be true. That way, if someone makes the comment that you’re a liar, it will hurt their reputation more than yours. If many people believe you were lying about something, that indicates they didn’t trust you in the first place. But, if only someone out to get you in trouble says it, you can probably overcome the accusation by pointing to your history as someone who can be trusted.

Another thing you can do is to talk to your supervisor or manager about it and say how much it bothers you. At least that way you can find out how much support you have from them. They might also advise you about how to handle it, knowing the situation up-close. Of course, you could also talk to the person who said it or who is saying it to others and ask for the specific example upon which they are basing their accusation. Then, you could attempt to prove to them that you were not lying. Or, you could ask them why they are making such a statement and tell them how much it bothers you. That might not mean much to them, but often that kind of open conversation shuts things down. Probably, as difficult as this is to do, you will find that unless the accusation is going to result in you being fired or will hurt your reputation with people you respect, it will be better to just move on and let time prove them wrong and prove you to be honest.

If the accusation is being made by a manager or supervisor and relates to your work, you have a bigger challenge. You will need to find a way to prove the truth. That isn’t always possible. That is another time when you have to rely on your work history and your record of being honest in other things. I realize none of this gives you a for-sure answer. But, perhaps it will give you some things to think about as you decide whether you want to make a formal complaint, challenge the accuser to show how you have lied, look for proof to show that you have been honest, or just figure it is a phony accusation that won’t matter a few months or a year from now. Best wishes to you as you deal with this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.