How to Deal with a Pathological Liar in the Workplace?

3,233 Views Updated: 30 May 2018
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How to Deal with a Pathological Liar in the Workplace?

Pathological liars might be rare, but we all have met one in our lifetime. Each one of us had or have one coworker in the office who never gets well along with others. No one can digest the idea of working with these fellows, knowing that they are going to backstab them anytime. We all have a person in our life, or our office who seems to live in a fantasy world where everything said is either false or exaggerated. As much as it feels bad to say, the fact is, they can’t be trusted at all.

Who Are Pathological Liars?

So, who are pathological liars? Pathological liars are people who have a long history of frequent and repeated lying for which no apparent psychological motive or external benefit can be discerned.

Why Do They Lie?

Even after multiple studies and numerous experiments conducted, no one has been able to avail a proper answer. There is no real consensus on what pathological lying is, and many people have developed their own definition. 

The reason for the constant and repetetive lies matter, but what matters more is the consequences of pathological lying. Pathological lying has negatively affected many people, even professionals, who are often unaware of the psychiatric instability or personality disorder of the liar. Some people have behavioral issues that make them lie about things, whereas some people have personality disorders. Both cases are different, in one case the person is lying deliberately, whereas in other cases, the disorder is the reason behind the constant lies.  

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How To Find Out If They’re Lying

This might be a little difficult to answer as it is very hard to find out the pathological liars in the workplace if any. Pathological liars are not simple liars, and NO, they don’t look at ceiling or floor while lying, they can look straight in your eyes and still say the most brazen lie without ever batting an eyelash.

Paradoxical to casual liars, pathological liars are very confident about what they speak and can justify their actions. In a way, they achieve gratification by telling lies. It would be a little difficult to identify pathological liars as they have strong social skills. And, as effective lying requires confidence, eloquence, and original thinking; it would not be as simple as making a cup of tea.

Perspectives On Dealing With Pathological Liars At Workplace

#1. From The HR's Point Of View

Being the HR of the organization, it is your duty to ensure the welfare of every employee of the company, and having a pathological liar in the team can make your work stressful. So, if you know a pathological liar in your team, enroll them in a therapy or counseling. Confront them in private, and if possible, record the meeting to use that as an evidence to support your decisions relating to the person. If you feel that the lying is getting severe and impacting other employees drastically, let them know that they have to either drop their behavior or their job. If needed, proceed with termination and consider having a backup by recording any complaint by any other staff regarding the same.

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#2. From A Coworker’s Point Of View

In the second case, dealing with the pathological liar becomes vital as their lies can affect your career. If the compulsive liar is your coworker, you will want to help them but don't ever praise the pathological liar as it would encourage them to continue with their behavior.

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The better way to deal with them is to hold them accountable for their behavior, and the consequences of their lies. Let them know that you're aware of their behavior and you won't accept it.  

How To Deal With Pathological Liars At Workplace


#1. Determine The Severity Of The Problem

A person might be a pathological liar, but his/her lies might be confined to small things which may or may not be affecting anyone. The lies might be targeted on degrading the reputation of the company or someone else's reputation. But, the need for a stringent action grows when the lying is severe and is impacting the company's overall growth or any employee's productivity.

#2. Confront The Person Privately  

Whether you're the HR or the coworker suffering because of the pathological liar, you should refrain from calling out an employee publicly for lying. That's a really bad idea and never works out well as the person will twist all the facts and in essence, turn the argument against you.

Instead, confrontation done in private reaps more fruitful results, better if you've something to record the conversation while trying to confront them.

#3. Document All Complaints And Instances Of Lying

The workplace policies can turn against you and lead you in trouble if you don't have a proper backup to support your decision or your complaint. If you're making a complaint to the HR, or you're receiving the complaint as the HR, keep notes of it in your own way. Keep it as the detailed account as you can and explain exactly what transpires.

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#4. Remove Or Request For Termination Of The Employee

Depending on the severity of the issue, you can even file a report to the HR and ask for termination of the employee with properly documented proofs. If you believe that the employee’s lies are affecting the company negatively, and it's vested in the best interest of the company and everyone involved, for the person in question to be terminated, don't hesitate in asking for it or doing it yourself (if you're the HR).

#5. Clear Up Any Confusion Or Distortion Of Facts.

Pathological liars are manipulative in nature and can distort the facts related to their termination to seek sympathy of his/her co-worker. So, being the HR or the person who requested for the termination, come up front and address the rumors. A pathological liar can twist around their coworkers, and they may be confused as to what is actually going on. Call for a meeting and set the record straight, let your employees know the person has been terminated.

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We hope you liked the article. Let us know of any such incident that has occurred with you and how you dealt with the pathological liar.

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