What's your Problem?

My manager's a pathological liar - should I confront him?

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Q: I work part-time in the voluntary sector and have been in my role for six months. The longer I spend with my manager, the more I realise what a pathological liar he is. He exaggerates promises to clients, will completely make up meetings he has never had, and lies about his personal life. I'm finding it difficult to take anything he says seriously. Should I confront him?

A: I can see no case whatsoever for your confronting this man. You use the word pathological, and so he may be. His response to your challenge might be totally irrational and potentially extremely damaging to you. And in any case, it's neither your role nor your responsibility to confront him.

Since his contempt for the truth seems so constant and so apparent, it would be surprising if you were the only person in your organisation to have noted it. At least some of his clients should have become aware of it and will presumably have mentioned it to his management.

Even though you're a part-timer, I imagine there are regular assessment opportunities that give you access to senior members of your organisation other than your manager. You should use the next one.

You will need to have with you a meticulous record of your manager's behaviour: every distortion or manipulation of the facts, with dates, witnesses, the lot. Avoid all personal comment, all judgment, any hint that you might be motivated by envy or ambition. Simply say, and state in writing, that you felt it important that the facts should be known: the reputation of the organisation must be at risk.

And if there's a single item about which you're not totally certain, omit it completely from your record. A dodgy dossier could be disastrous.

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