The most infrequently used and most powerful of all managers weapons. Try it, it can be a real treat. The next time your customer says “This isn’t good enough, why is it going to be late?” just reply with a simple “It has taken longer than we thought it would.”
The thing is, there is very rarely an good substitute for the truth. If you genuinely believe that the truth would be counter-productive then the only viable alternative is silence.
Also, being absolutely honest with the people working for you is imperative. Remember, as a manager, there is generally very little you can do to directly influence the outcome of things. So having a team of people who trust and believe in you is the key. You can get this by showing them that you are an honest and trustworthy individual.
Arses avoid the truth through fear as they believe that somehow the truth is likely to get them into more trouble. The truth is at the core of all damage limitation. Some quick, sharp, upfront honesty can go a long way to sorting out the most complex of issues.