Liars are everywhere and lying is a hugely common ‘game’ played out by many in our society. I have found that more than 90% of people, if not regular liars, have lied at least a few times in their lives.
Lying is such a frequent phenomenon that most of us don’t consider it to be a big deal and we tend to have developed quite a bit of tolerance for it. Still lies are lies, no matter how we look at them.
Lying technically though, is a deviation from what is true or real, and actually serves the purpose of shielding a liar from unwanted troubles. So that way it is a useful (albeit unethical) strategy to protect oneself from uneasy punch-ups for an act of violation.
If you remove the moral aspect from lying, you will find it very easy to do. You don’t need education or training to lie. Only a dead man doesn’t lie ! A fool or a child can lie as well. It comes, if at all, naturally to most people.
However, I have come across many people who as a principle, do not lie, no matter, whatever situation they are exposed to.
It is possible for a liar to avoid getting caught if he or she is clever or lucky enough, but if other people learn about it, it is certain to result in some unpleasant conflict.
Why do people lie? In some cases, people lie in order to conceal something that they should not have done. Some people lie because they lack the courage to speak up. Some lie habitually, even though there is no need for it. Others lie because they learn it from their parents or friends, and it then becomes an unconscious verbal reflex. For example, a kid drank a glass of water, and when asked by his mother if he did drink water, the kid said ‘No’. He said ‘No’ as he had learnt to ‘lie’ after seeing his parents lie, without realizing that there is no need to lie about something like having a glass of water. After all, he didn’t drink alcohol or do drugs. But a little kid cannot make that differentiation.
One clear advantage of lying is that you don’t get ‘exposed’ for an act of wrongdoing. Take for example, a student instead of going to the school, goes for a movie, and back home, he either keeps silent, or when asked by his or her parents, says “Mom, obviously I was at the school. Where else could I be?” At the other extreme, take the case of a murderer, who killed someone premeditatedly or accidentally, but denies being involved in it.
There are many among us who, in fact, strongly believe that lies if need to be told, it better be said. Sometimes you get saved, other times, you may get caught.
There is a type of lie which I call ‘Convenient Lie’. The name is quite suggestive. You will understand how this lie works if I give you a very common situation as an example. Suppose you are late for your office or may be to your college, then what would you normally say ? You will spin a story that you might think your boss or your teacher will gulp down, but such lies are so commonplace that in 3 out of 5 cases, no one is going to believe you, even if it is true !! That’s the tragic irony of the situation! However for our purpose, let’s stick to the example that I was about to talk about. If you are late to your office, or college or a meeting, what do most of us say? That you got stuck up in bad traffic, or that your mother, or your wife, or your father – in – law, suddenly fell ill, when you were about to leave your house. Right? It is a lie, but a ‘Convenient Lie’. Most ‘Convenient Liars’ do not think that there kind of lie is ‘really a lie’. Their point is that if they have to save their asses, what else can they say? True! I tell such clients of mine to tell the truth next time around. You won’t believe when they did utter the truth for their being late, or otherwise, their bosses were pleased and took a lenient view of it.
If you take a close look at the psychology of lying, it is indeed a very effective instrument of survival.
There are various types of liars : inveterate liars, habitual liars, pathological liars, intentional liars, manipulative liars, protective liars, avoidant liars, tactful liars and as I have seen in my life, ‘Motive Liars’. As my coinage suggests, they lie with a clear motive in their heads, in order to gain leverage of a situation, or may be, to take control over a tricky issue. An example will make it clear to you. Suppose you want to psyche out a friend of yours, or some guy, who borrowed money from you, but is not returning the money, then what you might possibly say, can go like this: “I went to the local police station and lodged a complaint against you,” or you may say, “I am coming tomorrow at 12noon to your office with ten guys to tighten you up.”, though obviously you don’t really mean it.
The majority of liars fall into the categories of Pathological Liars and Convenient Liars.
Neither self-guilt nor repentance are common characteristics among liars. Moreover, that is a serious extended pathology in and of itself.
What is noteworthy is that liars generally present themselves in public as happy – go – lucky individuals and are pretty popular among their circle of friends, well of course, if others are not aware of their lying business. Liars often behave as though they are honest and upright individuals. Liars (not because of their lying obviously) are quite respected and much loved by the people they hang around with because they have a sociable and attractive nature, just like hard-core criminals. Liars in general tend to gel well with everyone. Liars unknowingly share close bonds with other liars, and they soon become bosom pals. The reason is, as the saying goes ‘Birds of the same feather flock together’! All these traits are a combination of some inherent qualities and cleverly designed artificial dispositions to hide their lying behaviour from the public eye.
I have found that most liars are very shrewd, scheming, manipulative, attention – seeking and are corrupt. They can get into a relationship just to exploit what they want out of it. They are crooks by nature. They have some ulterior motive most of the time, whenever they have social interactions with others. They are somewhat low on morals and can deceive people with their appealing persona. They can tempt and trap people into their line of thinking and use people nicely till their job is done. Many liars have psychopathic traits and are somewhat indifferent emotionally and are less expressive of their thoughts. Some of them are kleptomaniacs or crooks. Others have an obsessive nature and are over – meticulous and fastidious in all that they do. Many liars outwardly pretend to be generous and helpful, but they do that, because internally they are under perpetual fear that others know that they are liars and not to be trusted.
The dangers of lying are conflicts, loss of trust, relationship breakups, resentment and anger. Out of all of these, the most serious problem is breach of trust, which once broken may be very hard to mend.
Liars are notoriously difficult to change, but it isn’t impossible. Most liars are ‘Serial Offenders’ and the majority of them go from bad to worse in their business of lying.
However, I emphasize the following advice, which if carried out, is certain to help liars stop lying:
- Don’t do anything that you should not be doing at all.
- It is important to admit the truth, even if you get into an unwanted act of omission or commission.
- Whenever possible, avoid telling unfounded lies
- Stop lying immediately if you have been doing so all these years.
On a lighter note, if there existed a society where everything under the sun was permissible without any risk of condemnation, all the people living there wouldn’t need to lie. But in our society there are a lot of restrictions and dos and don’ts placed on us, hence people take recourse to lies and prevarications. But this cannot be the reason to lie. All of us would do well to remember that lying if not a mental illness, is certainly neither a desirable thing, nor acceptable behavior.