Have you ever been lied to? My wife and I were lied to when we saw Hamilton in Chicago, and it was perfect.
It happened when my wife was waiting in the long line for the restroom during intermission. Afraid to miss any part of the show, she was nervous when she heard over the loudspeaker, “the show will start in five minutes, please return to your seats.”
After hearing the message, she was ready to get out of line. However, as she started to leave the line, the bathroom attendant stopped her and told her she should stay in line and promised her the show would not start without her. She stayed in line, and a few minutes later she heard the same message over the loudspeaker, “the show will start in five minutes, please return to your seats.”
It was ten minutes later that she returned to our seats. She had enough time to tell me about her experience as I watched dozens more people continue to return to their seats. My fuzzy math calculates at least fifteen minutes had gone by since the original five-minute warning had gone out over the loudspeaker.
As the last handful of people found their seats, the show resumed. Everybody got what they needed, and everybody had a wonderful evening at the theater — even though it involved telling a lie. If a situation ends in a way where all parties benefit, then the infrastructure you used is working well.
What is infrastructure? In this case, infrastructure included the systems and procedures in place to ensure everybody was able to use the facilities and return to their seats in a neat and orderly fashion before the next act.
Infrastructure in a law firm can be a bit more complicated. However, the same little-white-lies often take place in order to help the firm operate more smoothly. The benefits of these little-white-lies can only be judged as a success if all parties benefit.
Yes, this can be a slippery slope. When is it a benefit to massage the way you say something, and when is it simply being out of integrity with yourself? Only you can answer that question, and now may be a good time to think about where your personal boundaries are on the topic of massaging the facts.
Imagine a lawyer in a firm insists on entering his time in a peculiar way. It may be beneficial to suggest to him that it cannot be done that way (even though technically it can be done that way). This may give you the opportunity to show him a better way which meets his needs – a way that also helps the rest of the infrastructure continue running efficiently and cost-effectively. If everybody ends up happy, is it wrong to have misrepresented the truth? How do you judge?
There are many who would choose to simply “spin” the story rather than say something that is just plain false. There are others who dig in to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Where do you fall on the spectrum? What justifications do you use?
We at Attorney Computer Systems do not condone or advocate saying something that is simply not true, however, we are also in the business of building and maintaining efficient infrastructure. If you need us to tell somebody that they need to return to their seats because the show is about to start, then we will help you do just that if, and only if, it benefits everybody involved. This way everybody can have all of their needs met and still enjoy the show.
Worry Less. Practice More.