People don’t come with Pinocchio noses so we can tell when they’re lying, which is a real shame.
Of course lies are something we’re all familiar with, everyone’s told one (or more) when the occasion demanded. Some lies are polite (in the old school these were “white” lies) and spare feelings. There is no ill intent behind these sorts of lies… they help us get over the bumpy, uncomfortable parts with ego intact and move on, still friends.
Then there are the lies that are intended to deceive, to continue a facade, to avoid consequences or to just downright hurt another person. Old school called these the “black” lies, the ones that God really didn’t like. The ones you went to Hell for. They’re the reason witnesses swear on Bibles when they take the stand in a court of law — truth must be assured.
Outside the courtroom, things are a bit different. Spotting a liar is a whole lot harder, tricky enough that law enforcement has specialists to help them in this area. Liars can be incredibly good a deceiving people which is why the experts have come up with some excellent advice on spotting a lie.
Through painful experience I’ve developed my own lie detecting set of questions I rely on when something just doesn’t seem right about what I’m being told.
- Do the details stay consistent? It’s been my experience that liars are focused on the big picture, and the details get less attention. So when you ask about them, the answer tends to be vague or changeable, or your query is dismissed altogether. Those are red flags you should not ignore.
- Does the lie make logical sense? If someone is earnestly telling you something that just flies in the face of established fact or common, accepted behavior, it’s probably a lie. If the lie preys upon your darker fears (conspiracy theories, for instance) recognize this as a tactic, not a sign of truth. If something seems too good to be true… it probably is.
- Is the lie backed by unbiased facts? Anyone can spout facts and figures that sound impressive — data can be made to say anything if you try long enough. Lies are full of facts/figures and such, but without specifics to back the facts, what’s more, the liar can’t produce any, even when pressed. Twisting facts has risen to an art form in political debates, so you can see how easily, how convincingly this can be done.
- How invested is the liar in having you believe? If someone is insistent that you believe, putting on pressure to convince you or very invested in your falling for the lie, watch out. The right motivation can make anyone say anything, and a good liar will be primed to say it with his/her whole heart and soul.
- Have they put their money where their mouth is? If something is truly as spectacular as someone is telling you, do they use the product, live in the community, do the job, attend the program themselves? If not, why not?
LIes hurt, they can ruin people and relationships, lose you a job or the trust and respect of those who know you. The sad thing for the liar, is that it may well be that lying is easier for them than the truth.
And it seems, as I mentioned above, we all have the capacity to be dishonest, but only to a point. Your thoughts?