How To Offer A Second Chance Without Lying

Question: In a situation where you are supposed to be truthful about a person’s character, but it may cause the person to not be able to secure a job, what can be done appropriately without breaking the precept of abstaining from lying?

Answer: You should always first consider being totally truthful. You can discuss this option with the said person first. After doing so, if you seriously think that the person deserves a second chance, by not suffering any bias due to his or her past, you might wish to consider doing the following.

First, you have to be reasonably sure that withholding that particular truth is alright – as in, it will not harm the organisation the person might work in. Only then can you withhold the truth, without needing to lie at all. Second, you have to get the person to promise to never make the past mistake(s) again. Third, as a cautionary measure, you might want to get the person to sign an agreement on the above, which also states that if he or she repeats the mistake(s), the breached agreement will be disclosed to others. Hopefully, the potential of being shamed will deter potential mistakes. If there is hesitation on this, perhaps it is better not to withhold anything.


  • If one is already involved, one has to choose what to do, with compassion balanced with wisdom.


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