Another father who works in another office in my building shared how the night before Christmas his son wanted evidence that Santa really does come down the chimney, drop off presents and eat the cookies and milk left for him. Seemed like a normal discussion, until the boy wanted his dad to set up a camera and leave it recording so the boy could see Santa’s legs dangle as he came down and did his job. I thought, “Wow, how does dad get past this one?”So I asked the father to explain.
He said that he told the son that Santa was super fast and that the camera could not catch him in action. Thenhis son asked about at least being able to see the dust from the chimney and being able to see him eat the cookies (Now that I think about it, cookies explain how Santa runs an impossible marathon around the world in less that 24 hours and still stays chubby.)
While I let this father off the hook with his weak explanations to his son, it did remind me about how when a client is thinking about releasing information that is not really true, you either stop the lie from starting, or create more lies to cover your tracks. And in some cases you have to cover your tracks because your spokesperson is clueless when it comes to understanding what to say to the public (See former BP chairman Tony Hayward during the gulf oil disaster).
Yes, over the years, some clients have asked me to lie. Sometimes it seemed as “innocent” as not wanting to speak to a reporter and they wanted me to say that they were out of the country, and sometimes it was providing information to the press that wasnot a bold face lie, but rather misleading information. In my book, misleading information is a half truth, and a half truth is not truth. Sort of like saying, 10 gallons of water is pure, but it has a teaspoon of salt in it, so it’s still really pure because is it’s so little salt. Bottom-line: the water is not pure.
When I grew up my parents wanted me to believe in Santa. I too even left out cookies and milk (that I assume my parents took since we didn’t have mice). So now, what about my daughters who are 2-years and seven weeks old? I want them to know the truth and be able to defend it even with peer pressure they might face, at the same time be respectful of why others believe in Santa. Maybe I’ll just give them each a Flip camera and they can see for themselves.