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What Lying to 911 Can Teach Us About Problem Solving

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Chances are many of us have indulged once or twice in a white lie with the knowledge that, for the most part, the statement has little to no serious consequence. For one man however, his version of a “white lie” was far from harmless.

According to one story in the Associated Press, a Maryland resident is pending charges after he called 911 and made a false statement about being robbed.

The Charles County sheriff’s office said a man called 911 and made up a story about being robbed so that he could get a ride home. Authorities said they were called to Hawthorne Road near Manor Drive in Ripley for a reported armed robbery on Thursday. The man told officers that he had been walking on Route 225 when a car stopped and a someone put a gun to his head and demanded money. The man claimed to have complied and the suspects fled.

But as officers searched the area and noticed inconsistencies in his account, the man admitted fabricating the robbery story because he wanted a ride home.

He said his cell phone was out of minutes and 911 was the only number he could still call.

Taking into account his desperation, the man accused of falsely filing a police report was probably in distress—a factor that potentially clouded his judgment. Nonetheless, there is no denying that he made a major mistake. However, his error didn’t begin when he called 911 with a false story. It started much earlier.

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© Flickr user Vetatur Fumare

Despite his first mistake of not rationing his cell phone minutes he made an even bigger blunder: he underestimated his own value. He convinced himself that being stranded on the highway was not a viable enough reason to ask for help. If the man would have simply called 911 and told the truth, his day would have probably ended quite differently.  Perhaps the dispatcher would have put him in contact with a cab service or sent a nearby police car to pick him up. Who knows what would have transpired. But one thing is clear: by doubting the severity of his own predicament, he created an even larger problem.

There’s also the very obvious problem here of lying to a 911 operator. Under no circumstance is that acceptable. But it’s almost as taboo to lie to your clients or employees. Even if you do find yourself in a desperate situation, the truth is always going to be the best option. All lying has the potential to do is get you into some real trouble. For this man, it’s some sort of legal trouble, but for your business it could be a loss of a client, a hurt reputation, and a lack of trust from your employees.

Effective problem-solving takes time and serious contemplation. We need to come up with strategies that are fluid and well-equipped to remedy a situation. Yet, when problems arise unexpectedly, our instinct is to react first and reflect later; opening the door to further mistakes, misdirection and even loss of value. We need to learn to think before we act.  If we plan properly, then when problems do arise, we won’t likely be in quite as desperate of a situation, and therefore won’t be forced to jump into a decision that has a very negative outcome.

If you want to learn more about how we can assist in creating logical solutions for workflow challenges, don’t hesitate to contact our business process transformation firm today. Rest assured, we don’t come with pre-paid stipulations that can leave you stranded—we’ll stick around until you no longer need us. And you certainly won’t have to lie to 911.

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