08/13/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

5 Lies You Should Tell Your Boss

Whoever said lying at work is never a good idea hasn't wanted something badly enough. There are indeed situations in the workplace where not telling the truth is just fine, but you have to know when it's appropriate. (Oh, and make sure to keep track of all your fibs or you could be out of a job in no time!) Here, 5 things I'm giving you permission to lie about:

1. Your worth. Almost everyone lies in an interview when they're asked to name their price. In fact, many employers expect it. Therefore, it's reasonable to exaggerate your preferred salary amount by 10 to 20 percent, given of course that you're actually worth it. By showing that you value yourself, people will be more likely to consider a price closer to what you've asked for, and there will be more room to negotiate down.

2. Your future plans. Planning on starting a family in a year or two? Trying to launch your own business in your free time? Keep it to yourself. Employers want to think that your world revolves around them, and they'll gladly remain stuck in this unrealistic fantasy forever if you let them. Any talk of further aspirations plants the seed that they'll eventually need to replace you... And why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?

3. Your experience. Sure, you're a public speaker. The toasts you've given at the past four weddings have brought tears to people's eyes -- and that counts for something, doesn't it? Well, yes, actually it does. If you're confident about a skill but haven't necessarily been paid for it, then go ahead and add it to your résumé. But the trick is that you have to be able to "make it real" if required. No, you're not exactly fluent in Spanish or adept at Photoshop, but you could take a crash course if need be. It's a tactic used in business all the time: Sell it whether you have it or not, and then find a way to deliver.

4. Your health. Maybe you took some time off a few years back to deal with an illness, or you struggle with an occasional bout of depression. Anything regarding your health is strictly your business, and you're not obligated to tell anyone if they ask. The only reasons to be forthright about health-related issues are if you need to take advantage of an employee health benefit, or you're looking for protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act or the Family and Medical Leave Act.

5. Your tardiness. You missed the most important meeting of the month because you forgot to set your alarm. Do you admit this to your boss? Absolutely not. In a situation like this, the truth can do way more harm than a little white lie. But beware, you can only use the "family emergency" and "flat tire" cards once or twice before people begin to call your bluff -- so play them wisely!

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