On the 1st day of 2013 at the office, I lied. Without testing a major chunk of my module, I fibbed that I had tested most of it. Nobody found out, but that was not the 1st lie that I uttered at the work place. That set me thinking. Do you know the biggest lie of them all? “A tester never lies”; having said that, testers can lie for a lot of reasons, the most common of them being to hide guilt, fear of loss, shame, fear, to get away from a scolding from their management, to avoid unnecessary arguments with peers, to be more protective of their team members, to get a shot at promotion or at a new job by lying about an unknown technology, to get into the good books of the client etc. The impact of his lie can vary from as severe as losing the job to as trivial as to avoid a bad scene at the office.

And the most common defense from the tester would be that it is for “Good Intentions”. Below are some examples of good intentions represented through pictures.

Over time, there emerges a pattern of lies from the tester; it is important to analyze & identify the pattern, rectify this pattern to understand the reason in depth as to why the tester’s lying, and observe the person till a corrective pattern emerges. And this cannot be done by an outsider; the tester has to 1st get conscious of his habit and then tries to identify a pattern and correct himself and look for indicators in the corrective pattern.

Pattern 1 – Guilt, Shame & Fear of loss

Guilt & Fear of loss; lies of this pattern can vary from the fact that the tester wants to hide a bug which has been in the system for a long time, does not want his management to get suspicious of something, fear of financial loss or the fear that the job may not belong to him anymore or fear of a bad rating in the appraisal. Most of the root cause for these patterns would be an immoral act on the part of the tester; this pattern would emerge with the initial lies said to hide an incident which has actually occurred in the past and the impact of which can actually break his trust with his management. These lies stem from the fact that the tester cannot really bear the fact that knowledge of this incident would cause him to lose his job. Though most usually these occur from a bug not detected since the tester would have missed this due to human error and the bug being identified by another person, and these can occur due to a previous appraisal in an earlier job/company of the tester that the tester does not want his/her management to know about. Some examples of these lies would be in resumes about a role they claim to have done but have not, testing reports where they would have claimed to have tested some test cases but have not, etc.

Pattern 2 – Ego factor & Peer pressure

Given the culture of the Indian tester, it is possible that peer pressure causes a pattern of lies; These lies can be found in any discussion where his peers are involved and somebody actually praises the peer, or any issue where the competency of the tester itself is being discussed; The tester may utter a lie to pull down the person being praised in the discussion so that people question the competency of the person being praised. A 2nd example is his refusal to accept that he does not know a technology that his peer knows about. The tester may not consider these as lies and these lies can become a predominant part of his life in software testing. The impact of these lies over time would destroy his bond with other people since he may utter these things in the presence of others and can be caught lying. The best way to overcome this would be to accept the fact that there are a lot of people who are better testers than yourself.

Pattern 3 – Protectiveness

A tester can be very protective of his team and can lie to protect his peers and his management from something bad, that he perceives can happen to them; these lies come from the emotional connect and affection that the tester has for his team members and these lies will not cause a lot of strain on the team; the tester thinks that he is doing the right thing by lying in these circumstances, and will have no qualms about admitting these lies when he thinks that his team is out of danger. What he does not realize is that by admitting it at a later date, his management may not trust him with the same scenario if the same thing occurs in the future; by trying to protect them, he invariably and unknowingly hurts himself too.
And yes; as much as we stress on being professional at the workplace, it is impossible not to have an emotional connection to the people that we work with on a daily basis.

Pattern 4 – Nagging managers

The most innocent testers fall prey to the nagging management to start telling a lie; the manager might nag him to test the same feature even though it’s evident that there’s been no change to the feature; the manager might want him to attend a mindless meeting and talk about meaningless metrics only to bill the client. Or even a simple task like copying a set of test cases from one test case repository to another. These lies are mainly aimed at keeping a nagging manager quiet. These lies are considered very normal and over time, these lies become an integral part of the personality of the tester. The sad part is that even after the manager realizes that she’s a nag and stops nagging, these lies continue since the tester still perceives the manager to be a nagger. The impact of these lies would be felt in a long-term project where both the tester and the manager feel unappreciated after having been through some hard ties in life. These seem common amongst long term projects and the damage done by these is, at a time where they think that they should look out for each other, they start hating each other. It is not really possible for the manager to accept that he’s a nag; when the tester finds out that the manager is nagging, and that the tester has fallen prey to this model and has started fibbing, the recommendation is that he try and change his project as soon as possible.

Pattern 5 – Habitual Liar/Compulsive Liar

And the reason for these set of lies is that the tester is a habitual liar; he might have acquired this habit before working, or might have picked this up after he has started working; owing to constant criticism from, lying to defend oneself from constant rebuke and criticism would have become a way of life. Unfortunately, the impact of these lies is that the management would refuse to believe him even when he’s telling the truth. These lies are said for no reason and result in a loss of trust in the relationship between 2 individuals; and a loss of trust means that those would be the 1st steps towards the tester looking for opportunities outside the workplace.

Having said all of the above, it is very easy for you, the reader, to question me if all of the above is true and testers lie for various reasons? Why is there any need to have a corrective method since most testers have lied and live to tell the tale? Wearing a judgmental hat, the simplest answer to that seems the fact that most testers experience a lot of frustration; instead of experiencing the beauty of testing, there comes a time where they fall prey to their frustration and feel a total lack of trust towards their management. Unable to fight frustration and this lack of trust, the resort to the most common method of trying to get a job in another company; they decide to run away from their troubles, which may not be a long-term solution. By making a note of the lies that he says on a monthly basis, a tester needs to put himself on a corrective path to a better future by identifying his lying pattern and starting to work on a corrective model accordingly.

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Fake Software TesterA Fake Tester's DiaryFake Tester,Fake Tester's DiaryOn the 1st day of 2013 at the office, I lied. Without testing a major chunk of my module, I fibbed that I had tested most of it. Nobody found out, but that was not the 1st lie that I uttered at the work place. That set me thinking....