The guy’s a liar, he really is. He told me that it he didn’t go running to his N+1 when is all along his N+1 maintains it was him and him alone that briefed him from the very start.
Anyone working in change management knows that reading people and learning their motives is the trick to identifying the real challenge ahead. The trouble is that most people do not tell you the truth, at best they offer you their version of it. They tell you whatever it is they think you want to hear. However, there a few people that actually believe the lies they tell, converting them into a new and strange reality the moment the words pore out of their mouths. So when you speak with their colleagues (to try and get a 360deg view of the situation) you find that their version of ‘the truth’ is consistently out of line with the common view (assuming one can be detected).

Everybody wants to convince you that they are to be trusted (and indeed everyone should be). But some people are simply unable to objectively separate fantasy from reality. Interestingly, once this tendency has been identified, it can in fact make one’s life easier, simply because liars and fantasist are very often consistent.

A few years ago I worked with a guy that spent a great deal of time and effort telling people what he had said to this boss and that. However, once I had come to the conclusion that he was in fact living in a fantasy land of his own making; he became the easiest person to read of all. Everything he said was both the truth and a lie at the same time: it was the truth in as much that what he told me was indeed what he wanted to say, but a lie in as much that he had in fact done completely the opposite. For example if he said ‘I tried to warn the CEO that he was going in the wrong direction but he didn’t listen’ – in reality meant: ‘I congratulated the CEO on his insight and vision, unfortunately however I didn’t know what to believe in at the time, but looking back the CEO was obviously steering us all in the wrong direction.’ Eventually he became so predictable, I simply had to reverse what I heard and I was instantly very close to reality. It’s just like when people open with a qualifying statement such as ‘I am not a sexist, but……’ and then follow with a barrage of outrageous comments and observations. Somehow the pretence seems to make them feel immune from future attack or persecution.

So the guy is a liar, he is only telling me what he thinks I want to hear – and my knowing this, in a strange way, makes my job a little easier because if everyone told the truth, how would I ever know?