Koko the gorilla, was just a year old when her instructor taught her American Sign Language. Soon, Koko had a vocabulary of over 1000 signs and was able to communicate well with humans. On her birthday she was given a pet kitten. One day, Koko told her instructor that the tiny kitten was responsible for ripping a sink out of the wall in Koko’s unit.

Koko’s lie confirmed what evolutionary scientists had theorised – that deception is a universal trait, even across species.

In her TED Talk “How to Spot a Liar”, professional lie detector Pamela Meyer reveals the truth about deception. Every day, we are lied to anywhere between ten and 200 times. When we meet someone new, we’re likely to tell three lies within the first ten minutes. Additionally, the average married person lies to their spouse in one out of every ten conversations and college students will lie to their mothers once in every five interactions.

From social media to fake news, lies permeate every area of life, and business is no exception. In 2013, Edelman surveyed 31,000 respondents from 26 markets around the world and found that 82% of people worldwide do not trust their bosses to tell the truth. Lies may be a prevalent part of life, but they erode trust, destroy relationships and damage productivity.

While it may be easy to tell lies, in business, truthfulness is the bedrock of authentic relationships and the vision for your product or service depends on these relationships. The key to maintaining any relationship, whether it’s personal or professional, is honesty. Conflict avoidance should be avoided. Lying to make people happy is stupidity. A rebel entrepreneur stands by their integrity and tells the truth. Only stupid people lie. They do so because they fear the consequences of telling the truth, but, if you have integrity, you will have no problem outlining exactly why you did something.

Tony Robbins once said that “the quality of your life is the quality of your relationships”, and if these relationships are built on deception, it won’t be long before your business starts to disintegrate.

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