I learned to sail when I was in junior high. I sailed a 19 foot boat that could seat two people or five people comfortably.
I couldn't take it out solo, because I couldn't reach all the ropes without assistance. But I could sail it with one other person who didn't know a single thing about sailing. I could just say: hand me the rope that's cleated on the other side...
In one of my final lessons before I was allowed to take the boat out without an adult I got a lesson in skippering. The main job of the person in charge of the boat is to make sure everyone thinks you have everything under control. Because having panicking passengers is not helpful to anyone and can endanger the whole crew even in calm waters.
So no matter how nervous you are, no matter that the wind has come up and your racing a storm and you aren't quite sure where home port is through the fog... don't let your passengers know. This is more than just putting on a good show. It is an important safety lesson.
Then I think I overgeneralized that rule.
I made it part of my mission to convince everyone that I was completely in control and everything was just fine. We weren't going to capsize. I wasn't concerned about the waves or the fact that the boat was improperly rigged and my passengers were completely inexperienced swimmers. It didn't feel like lying. It felt like the thing you do. Because it isn't safe to let people know that you need help.
But what if you're not sailing.
What if the building is on fire? If that's the case, then pretending that everything is under control and encouraging people not to panic is not going to work for you. In fact you'd be much better off yelling: HELP! FIRE! EVERYBODY OUT!
I think I've been smoldering for some time with my sailing gloves on, ropes in hand declaring that everything is just fine while the smoke curls around me. You'd think it would be easier to determine whether I was sailing or standing in a burning building.
Quaker, teacher, parent,