Why We Lie

From The Financial Times, Seven categories of rot that appeal to big cheeses

Last week, I came across the following rot-rich announcement from a leading UK institution. “It is with regret I announce that Mr X is leaving Institution Y by mutual agreement at the end of April. Mr X has been an outstanding colleague who has contributed much to the organisation . . . I am sure you will join me in wishing him all the best for the future.”

There are four rotten sections in this peach of an announcement. “It is with regret” means it is with relief. “By mutual agreement” means we fired him but have agreed that neither of us will talk to the press.

Mr X “has been an outstanding colleague” means anything but; indeed, the greater the protestations about the departing person’s marvellousness, the greater the joy to be seeing the back of them.

“I know you will join me in . . . ” means I don’t care what you actually think, but I am the boss around here and I am telling you what the public line is.

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