Real Talk: I Think My Coworker is a Pathological Liar

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Leah Thomas866

Everyone has had one or two coworkers who they could not stand (it’s a rite of passage at this point). But have ever worked with someone you believe to be a pathological liar? 

“I have a coworker who I think is a pathological liar,” one FGB'er wrote to the FGB Community.

“So far, he hasn't explicitly tried to undermine me, but I get the sense that he can't help but lie about things, even when I don't really see the point (e.g. the lie isn't making him look any better). Has anyone dealt with a difficulty personality-based issue with a coworker? I have no idea whether to approach him or someone else on my team about it,” she continued.

“I suppose your reaction depends on what the coworker is doing,” one woman named LadyPele responded

“If the lies will impact the company or department, bring it up to your manager. Be sure you have your facts straight; what was said and what the truth is, and explain your concern with the impact to the team/department/company. If the co-worker is lying about ridiculous things that have no impact on work, then you can probably just smile and move on.”

“Like LadyPele said above, there's probably nothing you should do right now while it's not impacting you,” another wrote. “You may want to keep some notes in case it becomes a problem later. And avoid contact/conflict with them if you can!”

The initial poster responded to the advice, saying, “Thanks for your advice! So far his lies seem harmless, but it still bothers me and I find it bizarre/disconcerting. It does make me question whether, in the future, his behavior could affect my work. I think I'll keep quiet for now but definitely keep an eye on things since I don't find him trustworthy!”

In situations like this, documenting every suspicious encounter will benefit you in the future. Taking notes could eventually save your position within the company if the liar’s behavior ends up escalating to the point of career sabotage.

It’s important to not antagonize or attack this coworker, as it could simply make you look bad. However, if his lies begin to pose a threat, do not hesitate to contact HR with your concern.

One woman gave suggestions on how to bring the situation to a manager without coming off as accusatory against the coworker. 

“I suggest that you stay factual and report any consequential lies affecting your work through channels in a non-threatening way. Examples, report to mutual manager: ‘I hear from colleague that X set of facts affects our assignment; is this correct?’ or ‘Colleague is mentioning that A causes B with respect to our project, but my understanding is that C causes D. Can you clarify this for us?’ With any luck, management will address this problem employee after 1 or 2 comments,” she wrote.

“I agree with the advice not to engage unless necessary,” another advised. “I, too, have worked with folks like this. They are toxic, and you can’t fix them. Neither antagonize them nor act frightened — either response can make you a target. Just keep your distance and be pleasantly neutral.”

If the situation becomes dire, you will have your documentation to fall back on as essentially an alibi and testament to your professionalism versus your coworker’s.

For all other personal or professional questions, reach out to the FGB Community to receive advice from professional women.