Denver Bar Association
September 1999
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Truth To Be Told in "What is the Emperor Wearing?"

by Greg Rawlings

While I am always dubious about books that seem to fit on the self-help shelf, I was given a copy of local author Laurie Weiss’ book, What is the Emporer Wearing?, about telling the truth in business relationships, and found the book interesting and quite well done. Dr. Weiss, described as a “non-traditionally trained therapist, coach and consultant,” has written a brief, helpful book about a subject that tends to leave lawyers squirming. Recently, I had the privilege to teach a writing class to a group of eighth-graders, and more than one asked me if my favorite movie was “Liar, Liar.” It’s not, in that I loathe Jim Carrey, but that’s beside the point. Lawyers are considered professional liars, even by otherwise cheerful, bright 13-year-olds. We really do have a problem with the truth.

Dr. Weiss recommends non-confrontational methods by which one can avoid lying without, at the same time, failing to accomplish what you’ve set out to achieve (unless you’ve basically set out to lie through your teeth). The book acknowledges that we live in a world where not hurting someone’s feelings can often trump telling the truth, and that the truth is often not written in stone—the world is a protean place, and truth is a protean concept—still, in the long run, some semblance of the truth can be both arrived at and communicated.

Using brief case studies, the book sets you within situations where your sense of ethics is tried. Then it shows various ways by which the truth (or truthful acts) can be used to resolve the ethical issues involved, and how we often need to alter our view of the reality of a situation so as to be able to continue functioning within that situation. How much do I tell a client, and what? Am I confusing how I should deal with this client with how I should deal with someone completely different? In Dr. Weiss’ book, we often incorrectly categorize who we are dealing with, and set ourselves up for problems, when a little more attention up front could have eased things considerably.

So, if you’re looking for a short work by a local writer that deals with issues we deal with daily, look up What is the Emperor Wearing?

Publisher: Butterworth-Heinemann, 1998, $18.95.

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