I was 24 when I learned the negative aspects of being completely honest. I was interviewing to be a police officer. I made it to the polygraph testing. The administrator of the test, told me “be honest, that’s all we’re looking for.” So, with me wanting to make an good impression, I was completely honest. (For those of you that don’t know, prior to being connected to the polygraph, usually the person taking the test answers the questions first in written form.)
“Have you ever driven your vehicle faster than the speeding limit?” – Yes
“Have you ever taken a controlled substance?” – Yes, marijuana. “OK, when?” – About 8 months ago.
“Have you ever taken anything without paying for it?” – Yes. I was at a Wal-mart, and they were having a parking lot sale and I wanted a laundry basket, it was on sale for $1. The line was back inside the store and it was to long. So I left with it.
“Have you ever had bouts with anger?” – Yes, I have thrown items at the wall when I have been angry.
The administrator stopped the preliminary questioning and said, “I need to be honest with you. You are not going to pass. What you are telling me, will disqualify you from working the police force.” There’s a possibility you still have THC in your system, we would arrest someone for shoplifting a $1 item, and the anger issues are to big a liability for us to take on. I recommend that you take yourself out of the bidding and re-apply in 12 months. If you don’t and fail the test, you will not able to re-apply with any police department until three years.”
I replied, “I don’t understand, I’m being completely honest with you, as requested. I took the laundry basket valued at $1 years ago, I tried marijuana once, don’t plan on doing it again, and I was really angry at the time, and I didn’t lose my temper at anyone. Should I have not informed you this information?”
“No you did what you were told, and it is appreciated, and that is why I’m giving you the opportunity to take yourself out of the running. In 12 months you can re-apply.”
I thanked the administrator, shook his hand, and left. I called a friend of mine, who was also in the business of getting people to tell the truth, and he told me “You don’t need to tell the whole truth. You need to think about your career. Its great your were honest, but if you didn’t tell them it would not have hurt anyone, now you’ve hurt yourself.”
That was one of my biggest life lessons. Only tell people what they need to know. Is it being honest? I guess to a certain point.
I never did go back and re-apply to be police officer. I couldn’t see myself doing that anymore. Maybe it was a bitter taste or maybe the way my friends started to change after the things they experienced in the field.
But going back to the truth. What I do now, I’m a corporate investigator, and I interview employees who are causing losses to the company they work for. Some of the cases I work on, are what we call “bang-bang” cases. There is no doubt what the employee has done, if they deny the allegations we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt the losses they caused.
But there are times when all the necessary evidence is not there, but the investigation points to an employee. A lot of times employees (and people) know that if it can’t be proven then there cannot be punishment. (Same in a court of law. If the prosecutors cannot prove the defendant(s) did the crime, the defendant(s) walk.) I am trained to read people when I talk to them and I can tell when people are not being completely honest. But it still does not stop people from lying. And I know they do it to protect themselves, so I do not get offended. But how much can a person lie to protect himself or herself? Is it an OK practice? Can you trust a person who lies about the things they have done to protect themselves, their job or even freedom?
The biggest question that bothers me is why do people who tell the truth suffer the consequences when people who lie can get away with it? It is no wonder why people take their chances and are not afraid to be dishonest with questions they are asked. What do we teach our children?