Lie To Me

a2I found this meme on my newsfeed on Facebook and it made me smile.  I smiled because I feel the opposite of the intent of this meme.  It doesn’t bother me one bit when people lie to me.  My pet peeve, however, are bad liars.  I hate being lied to when the person either has no idea how to lie, cannot back up their lie with reasonable information, or tells a lie with an unbelievable premise.

One of my favorite activities is talking to strangers.  The world is a fascinating place filled with interesting people.  The more people I talk to, the more I learn about the world and how the people in it think.  The thing about strangers is that most of them strike up a conversation with me.  The other thing is many of them lie about what they do for a living, where they live or who they are.  Sometimes I do it too depending upon the situation.

I like the lies.  I can entertain my mind trying to figure out if someone is telling the truth and if not, why they are not telling the truth.  Why people lie is always a puzzle.  Some people lie because they are insecure and want to sound impressive to others.  Some people lie for malicious reasons.  Some people lie in order to seduce.  Some people lie to sell something.  Some people lie because they know how to do nothing else.  Some lie because lying makes them feel better.

Whatever the reason behind the lie, as I stated in the opening, I like it to at least be believable.  Even if I know the person is lying, I still want the lie to be reasonable.  An example of what I mean is: I once had someone tell me they were an engineer.  When I asked what type of engineer they were, the person took some time to figure out what to say and ultimately went with the statement that they were a civil engineer.  My next question was an inquiry as to what exactly does a civil engineer do?  I know what electrical engineers do but the job of a civil engineer was less known to me.  This question was even harder for the person to answer, taking several minutes to come up with something to say.  At last, the person told me that they design things.

“Uh huh.  You don’t say?”

This was when I lost interest in that person.  It’s fine to claim to be an engineer but if you have no idea what types of engineers there are and what those specific types of engineers do – then don’t claim to be an engineer!  Do not claim to be a lawyer if you know absolutely nothing about what different types of lawyers there are and what those specific types do.  Do not claim to have been in the military for 20+ years, long enough to fully retire, if you are obviously only in your late twenties.

By all means, if you run into me, claim to be whoever you like but be prepared to have a conversation about it and be able to back up your statements.  If you claim to be a superhero with some superhuman powers then have a somewhat reasonable story as to how you acquired these powers.  Think it through.  Explain that you were born and raised near a nuclear facility and theories abound in the area that there were radioactive substances leaking from the storage areas at the facility.  Say that the groundwater was contaminated and caused mutations in your DNA which changed your brain just enough to result in some superpower.

Here are a few tips for successful lying:

1. Be realistic as to what others will believe or what could be a possibility

2. Include as much of the truth in your lie as possible.  Make the truth you include something that the other person can verify.  Adding such truth to your lie, that the other person’s brain identifies as truth will cause them to believe the lie is true simply by association.

3. Keep the lie short and simple.  The less complex the lie, the easier it is to maintain.

4. Have your lies already prepared.  By this I mean, don’t tell a lie on the fly.  Have lies already researched and planned out so that your lie doesn’t sound made up in a hurry and so that you don’t have to struggle to answer any follow up questions by the person to whom you are lying.

5. Know your target if possible.  Knowing the people you lie to can help you avoid making a fool of yourself.  Do not tell scientifically related lies to someone with a degree in any science related field of study.  Tread carefully when dealing with cynics as they require more convincing.

6. Mind your body language when you are speaking a lie.  Even if your words are convincing, your body language speaks much louder.

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32 thoughts on “Lie To Me

  1. I love this. I live in a small-town area where most people who’ve been around awhile know “the truth” about most everyone else or can find it out PDQ. This adds a fun “meta” level to the lying, like trying to figure out why someone is telling you something you know is a crock.

    Newcomers often posture like mad because they figure everyone who can catch them out is a long way away. Even before social media and Google, such thinking was delusional.

    I’m reblogging this (1) because I love it, and (2) because your checklist could be helpful to fiction writers in developing characters –and to shady journalists determined to make stuff up (not that I know anyone like that . . .)

  2. Reblogged this on Phoenix Rising From the Ashes and commented:
    Most liars can be easily spotted by the mistakes they make. I have had one after me for almost two years and the funny thing is the “proof” she has for the dreadful lies she accuses me of, chnage evrytime she posts them. Right down to the screen shots she posts that have different words each time she posts them! One of the easiest things in life is to tell the truth……..

    • That’s the thing about truth is it doesn’t require proof. Truth is true whether others believe it or not. On the other hand, lies seem to always require proof, explanations, and a need for the liar to be believed.
      I definitely prefer lies told for entertainment purposes only such as offering a stranger a story that you are a secret government agent, a brilliant artist, the newest pop singing sensation, a doctor, an architect, the inventor of some new product, etc. Lies told with malicious intent are never fun or enjoyable. Especially those told with the intent to defame someone else’s character.

  3. Fabricating a life for yourself that others believe isn’t easy to pull off in this Internet age. My partner and I met a gentleman the other day whose life story we found fascinating—former president of a small, out-of-state university and a retired linguistics professor at a local college—oh, and he said his father was the former governor of a midwestern state. None of it was true. The best “fact” he shared was that he edited The Rabbit Collection by John Updike. Heck, I guess if you’re going to be creative about your own life, go big!

    • That sounds like a fascinating guy. The lies he told you are so grandiose, I have to wonder at his motivations. Is he seeking admiration? Using the story as a reason for looking down on others? Just an insecure guy who wants to impress others? Or perhaps he is a pathological liar? Or is he devious – looking to use his pretend positions and family to deceive others and using this to get their money, identity or other things of value?
      All very interesting possibilities. And why a linguistics professor? Does he merely have an interest in languages?

    • Yes they do. I have run into many liars who tell different stories to so many different people they can never seem to remember which ones they told me. And that just makes the game less fun when they can’t keep stories straight and also when I can easily compare their stories to me with the ones they tell others. These people tend to be of the the type that lie all the time, to everyone. I definitely prefer the occasional lie told by a stranger I will never see again.

      • Me too sugar, unfortunately i have a narcissist stalker here on WordPress, who keeps telling everybody who comes to my blog lies about me. There are so many different lies from her, that she is just making herself look like an idiot. I have no time to argue with her, and i have no need to. Her lies just prove my point. Thank you for following me honey. xxx

  4. Always tell the truth; unless you are protecting someone. Then you never have to remember what you said. Of course, fiction is fiction and fictional characters lie all the time. It’s a lot of fun, but in real life it nearly always does harm.

    • Well yes, in the real world, lying is an almost guaranteed way to alienate people, breed mistrust and cause problems. In writing fiction it is essential. And in researching behavior for characters, I find the more interaction I have with people of varying backgrounds, cultures, philosophies and everyday living habits – the better understanding I have to write characters.
      The only thing about lying in the real world is that it is a very useful way with which to gauge a person’s character. When I ask someone I have dealings with, a question to which I already know the answer just to give them a chance to tell the truth or lie and they choose to lie, that tells me a lot about what to expect from the person.

      • I think the truth is often more interesting, imaginative and inventive than the lie. I agree with you that it is the reason people lie that is the most important thing. I just saw “Albert Nobbs”, a very moving film by Glen Close, which is about love, lies and truth. I wonder how many lives are caught in their own fiction?

    • This is very true. Some lie because they have done bad things and don’t want to face it or have anyone else find out. Others lie because they have had bad things done to them and can’t face it and feel too much shame to risk having others find out.

        • Abuse victims often feel shame about the abuse they endured. Rape victims sometimes feel shame for having been raped. Shame is a complicated emotion and can take a lifetime to overcome.

        • You really don’t have to tell me about that. It doesn’t make it right to abuse others though does it? I mean everyone has some baggage. ….we can’t just go around misplacing shame on strangers who have done us no wrong just because 30 odd years ago we suffered at the hands of another. ….

        • I never said abusing others was right nor do I condone such behavior. You asked a question about why someone would feel shame in relation to something bad done to them and I answered.

        • I understand that its just that a friend of your other commenters on this post recently attempted to shame me for calling her out for harassing me for two years. Her reason for that was that I should have shown sympathy because in 1985 she was raped by her husband. ….. I had no knowledge of this even though she claims some secret police file had disclosed these facts to me. I am sorry to bring this up on your post but I guess my point is that there is always two sides to every story. ……

  5. What a post! Loved it, and plan to use some of this info in my books. Of course the biggest liars are politicians and they could use some help from you because they are so blatant. I’ve never figured out why politicians lie, because everyone knows they are. Wouldn’t the real truth be nice for a change!
    Thanks for following my blog!

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