Dan Ariely is a world famous professor of psychology and behavioural economics. He teaches at Duke University and his talks on TED have millions of views so he must know a thing or two. Dan has an interesting theory on dishonesty that you definitely need to know about. What’s the slippery slope theory all about then? Put simply, the theory explains that no one starts off with an agenda of intentionally lying and cheating. It’s a string of small sins that builds up and eventually gets us in trouble – the slippery slope.
What is the slippery slope all about?
Each and every person develops his own personal values as he grows up. We develop an opinion on what is right and what is wrong, what it moral and what isn’t. Most people try to live by those values and standards that they set for themselves. So when does the trouble start? When we start cutting corners. If we allow ourselves to cut corners, before we know it we will be doing significant actions we never believed we were capable of. This is the slippery slope.
If we are facing a dilemma, for instance to take what is not ours or not to take. We don’t make a decision on a given course of action at the moment of truth. The decision has already been made based on our actions overs the years. So If you cut corners and do minor actions like taking a soda that isn’t yours from the fridge at work, this could eventually lead to major acts of theft. It always starts small and then you head down a slippery slope. You may be rolling your eyes. Surely taking a soda is not the same as stealing a laptop from work. Dan Ariely doesn’t think so.
What’s the takeaway?
This means that there is a lesson to be learnt about yourself and your employees. Think about your daily routine, do you ever cut corners and do small seemingly insignificant actions that aren’t in line with your values? If so, you need to cut them out immediately before it’s too late. What about employees though? Did you catch an employee lying about what may be an insignificant issue? Did you catch an employee stealing nothing more that a few pens from the office supplies cabinet? Well, if so, you were just given a great gift – the knowledge of the direction in which things are going. If your employee stole a pen it’s only a matter of time until this leads to major company destroying actions. You can’t be naive. In the words of Frank Underwood (House of cards):
The road to power is paved with hypocrisy and casualties. Never regret.
You must be ruthless. Be aware of the slippery slope and take imedtiate action before it’s too late.
If up still aren’t convinced after reading out post, maybe Dan Ariely will be able to change your mind. The attached video is 20 minutes long but well worth your time.