Pressure to lie stores up trouble for UK business

UK employees are increasingly ‘blagging’ their way through work, a trend that could cause serious problems for business decision making, researchers have warned.

A survey of 2,000 UK employees conducted by the Plain English Campaign and software giant Microsoft shows that workers feel pressure to lie at work, with almost two-thirds admitting to ‘business blagging’ – using language that avoids saying anything specific.

The survey identified a trend of ‘ascending Chinese whispers’ – with the ‘white lies’ being passed up the hierarchical chain.

It showed that employees are more likely to blag to their boss (22%) or their peers (23%) than their subordinates (9%), showing that the pressure to make decisions is hierarchical.

Respondents said three factors were key drivers for blagging, with a lack of information coming top (64%), followed by time pressures (51%).

Finally, 23% were not sure that the information they were relayed was correct, leading to the passing on of dubious data.

Chrissie Maher, the founder of the Plain English Campaign, said: “Tight deadlines and pressure from management can easily make people feel they need to use ‘blag’ language which avoids saying anything specific. This can be very dangerous, as decision-makers will not have the detailed information they need.”

This is not only bad for business, but for the workers themselves, as 81% of respondents said it made them feel stressed, and 66% said it created more work.

Almost six out of 10 (57%) also felt it undermined their colleagues’ trust in them.

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