How Dark Managers Can Lie

We all know that a good lie seems to be the obvious truth while a bad lie is obviously false.

For instance, “hardworking always guarantee constant career advancement” is such an obvious lie that almost no experienced employee will believe it for long, while “a person seeming to be honest for several years must be indeed a honest person all along” is a much better lie, as most people just get the 1st half of the lesson from “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”(The same lie won’t work twice to the same targets) while missing the other half(inductive reasoning isn’t always true in general). Our history has no shortage of politicians living in a double life for more than a decade, and these seemingly altruistic heroes/heroines turned out to be twisted maniacs(Also, there are probably some such people that are just not being revealed yet). Nevertheless, many people still think that they can know a person just by long term observation.

While all these are just common sense for ordinary lying experts, dark managers take them to an even higher level.

Let’s say that a supervisor has forced his/her subordinates to constantly work in a 130 hour work week. The truth is that that he/she just enjoys watching others suffer deeply(Schadenfreude) by setting them up to fail while forcing them into endless death marches, even though he/she won’t have any real benefit(But he/she can’t lose anything nontrivial either, or he/she would then be a stupid dark manager).

However, he/she can lie that the short term situation is so dire that not sacrificing the long term will not make the team survive the short term, causing the long term to be non-existent.

Whether the lie seems to be the obvious truth depends on his/her proficiency on dark management, but if his/her lie’s challenged, he/she can, in addition to the standard spinning techniques, use this dark management lying technique:

“If it were a lie, it would mean that I am just making you suffer without gaining any benefit for myself. Why would I do such a stupid thing?”

He/she hopes his/her subordinates believe that he/she must be subtly taking any real benefit him/herself in order to be motivated to lie, ignoring the fact that the truth can just be ridiculous in really rare cases.

This technique is based on the following 3 conditions:

  1. The lie must seem to be the obvious truth no matter what
  2. The truth must be extremely unbelievable no matter what
  3. The lie being false must imply the unbelievable truth

Such a combination is based on an assumption that the truth must make sense and be reasonable in order to be believable(Otherwise it would trigger an extremely severe cognitive dissonance). The train of thought’s thus like this:

  1. The lie seems to make enough sense and be reasonable enough to be the truth
  2. The lie being false implies that the truth doesn’t make sense and is unreasonable
  3. The truth can’t make no sense and be that unreasonable
  4. The lie must be the truth

Therefore, to utilize this dark management secret, a dark manager can do the following:

  1. Does something unbelievably perverse and ridiculous while secretly taking significant real benefits from such incomprehensible madness
  2. Cover it up with a set of lies mixed with half-truths that are highly coherent and backed up with a mountain of skillfully fabricated evidences and real but misleading ones
  3. (When the lies’ challenged)Stress that the lies must be the truth or the truth would be impossibly insane and twisted
  4. Sends a subliminal message that it’s better to believe in the lies than uncover the truth

For instance, let’s say you’re running a game company. When some of your employees expose the truth that you’re running a 150 hour workweek sweatshop for months in order to keep the death marches going, but they’ve kept silent due to being afraid to be sued by the company if they leave by claiming that they’re joining its competitors, you can cover it up with this lie:

“Well, a 100 hour workweek would be believable, but a 150 hour workweek? Come on! We’re in the 21st century now, how would I be able to treat my employees as dumb slaves for months? As for the lawsuit thing, if they were speaking the truth, the company would lose all those cases anyway, so why would I be so stupid to sue them even when I’d be the one who would suffer?”

This lie has the following key aspects:

  1. It tries to make the others believe that you know that the game industry is full of crunch modes on steroids, meaning that you get the reality and are not selling obvious lies
  2. It tries to reinforce the lie that the mankind is so advanced that slavery is just impossible
  3. It tries to infer that the truth would mean that the world still fails to protect employees from being slaves despite what the society claims
  4. It tries to covertly plant the guilt in the way that, if the truth were revealed, the humanity would also be responsible for letting it happen in the 1st place
  5. It tries to shift the focus from “the cost of taking on the lawsuit is so great for any employee that it can keep their unconditional obedience even when they’ll win at the end” to “no one would try to harm the others when it’ll only harm him/herself instead”

(Depending on the situation, you can even threaten to sue them for libel if they refuse to shut up, but you must always remember that a person feeling cornered will likely end up doing dangerously desperate things that can completely catch you off guard.)

If there are enough number of such lies, all being sold long enough, the targeting audience will probably even begin to question their ability to judge and perceive the truth(or they’d rather lie to themselves even though they know the truth is indeed that crazy), eventually to the point that they’d just give up pursuing the truth as the persistently high cognitive dissonance will ultimately become intolerable. This way, lies seeming to be the obvious truth will be accepted by most of them without risking too many threatening challenges.

Note that, however well crafted, it’s still just a lie after all, and very few lies can remain being accepted before they become irrelevant to the lie benefactors. Therefore, a dark manager should treat lies as an extra line of defence and a delay tactic, so he/she’ll have enough time for a more permanent plan. At the end of the day, a dark manager can’t survive using lies only.

To sum up, the following are the key takeaways for dark managers if they’re to forge lies:

  1. Does something unbelievably perverse and ridiculous while secretly taking significant real benefits from such incomprehensible madness
  2. Cover it up with a set of lies mixed with half-truths that are highly coherent and backed up with a mountain of skillfully fabricated evidences and real but misleading ones
  3. (When the lies’ challenged)Stress that the lies must be the truth or the truth would be impossibly insane and twisted
  4. Sends a subliminal message that it’s better to believe in the lies than uncover the truth

If it works, then the train of thought of the targeting audience should be like this:

  1. The lie seems to make enough sense and be reasonable enough to be the truth
  2. The lie being false implies that the truth doesn’t make sense and is unreasonable
  3. The truth can’t make no sense and be that unreasonable
  4. The lie must be the truth

The core mechanism is to utilize their cognitive dissonance so they’d believe in the lie instead.

Just remember that lies are just extra buffers that can only buy time as they can’t survive permanently. So they need to become irrelevant before they’re being figured out.

P.S.: Actually, there’s an even higher level — Makes the targeting audience believe that the truth itself doesn’t matter as what really matters are whether something’s aligned with their belief system and cognition. But it’s just so hard that only the best dark managers can have a remote chance to pull off the trick. Nevertheless, those managed to achieve this can shape the mindset of their targeting audience in easy, simple and small ways, as the truth would be irrelevant to their lies. The marketability of the lies would become everything that counts. The truly marketable ones can then brainwash generations after generations without much trouble. The best lies can cause their targeting audiences to devalue the truth altogether.