You’re A Liar and I Can Prove It

Before today is over, someone is going to tell you a lie.

You’re going to be lied to by a co-worker, a friend, a stranger and perhaps even by your spouse/partner.

Before today is over, you will be lied to as many as 200 times.

The vast majority of them are “little white lies”, but they are lies just the same.

Some more facts about lies:

  • Strangers generally lie to you 3 times in the first ten minutes of your conversation.
  • 1 out of every 10 spousal interactions has a lie in them.
  • 1 year olds learn the skill of concealment.
  • Men lie 8 times more than women on online dating profiles. Now you know why their profile pictures always seem to be so “young”.

You lie, I lie, we all tell lies to each other. And lying is a cooperative effort. Our acceptance of an untruth completes the false transaction. I’m a lying liar, and so are you, friend.

Why do we lie?

We say things about ourselves that are untrue because it’s a subconscious representation of  the kind of person we wish we were. We wish we were thinner. We yearn to be more successful. We desire to be smarter. The utterance of a lie is us wishing aloud we really were “that” person.

We live in a post-truth society.

Everything is bullshit. Every word comes pre-loaded with an agenda. We are terrible listeners (more on that tomorrow) and we are prodigious creators of personal broadcast content.

Our Facebooks are loaded with lies of omission and braggadocio that’s over the top and oftentimes borderline narcissistic. We have these fake digital friends that we volley back and forth with, our words largely not the genuine article.

Media personalities talk talk talk blahblahblah, but they sure don’t listen much.

The number one reason recruiters pass on a  job candidate is “misrepresenting their qualifications”.

Republicans and Democrats scream ridiculous lies at each other, each side trying to yell louder than the other, neither side listening to what the other is saying.

Infomercials, especially for supplements, ab blasters and snake oil pitched as the panacea for all the things that ail us work so well because they are giving us something we are hungry for. We want to believe the lies. We agree to cooperate. We are part of the falsehood ecosystem.

So many of our fellow humans have stopped looking for truths and have chosen instead to settle on opinions that we can tuck neatly into our values box and accept as the real thing.

Pamela Meyer knows a lot about lies. She wrote a book about it called Liespotting

Watch the video. She opens with a simple way to tell when we’re being lied to; it’s called over determined denial, or qualifying language. Bill Clinton lied about Monica Lewinsky by using formal language…”I did NOT have sexual relations with that woman…”

The formality of the language and the reference to her as “that woman” is a tell.

Other ways to spot liars include:

  • Body language.
  • Fake smiles. Watch the eyes; they show when someone is really smiling.
  • Some people actually shake their heads, subtly motioning no when they are saying yes.
  • Arms crossed.
  • Barriers between themselves and us -a clipboard, a chair, a coat. These are obvious tells.
  • Their vocal tone gets lowered, and more measured.

Meyer has partially decoded the lie, and I was spellbound watching her TEDtalk on the subject.

I recommend my clients tell the truth. One way to do that is an exercise I have them do. I ask them to list a minimum of 100 things they did at their previous jobs. Not duties or the job description , but the actions they performed.

Did they water the plants on Mondays? Did they once repair the copy machine? Did they bring donuts to work… once? I ask them to write every single action they recall they performed. Then I tell them to highlight all of the actions that brought them pleasure or satisfaction.

What rises from the page is…the perfect job.

I tell them to structure a version of their resume using only the duties and actions that delivered the buzz of joy and to carry that into an interview. They are to look their interviewer in the eye and say “I loved doing these things, and they are my greatest strengths.”

When you sell yourself without a hint of pretense, you give visual and verbal cues you are legit. Your enthusiasm shines through. You believe it, and they do too.

This truth-telling is irresistible. Hidden among the torrent of  self-promoting raw sewage and bullshit is a refreshing candor that satisfies the hunger of the recruiter. Finally! they say. This woman is the real thing!

I got speeding ticket drastically reduced once. I told the cop, ” Yes, officer, I was speeding. I was doing 90 like you mentioned. I was driving 90 in this 65 zone. I was doing 90 because I am late for my massage at Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley.”

He laughed,  looked at me and said, “I think you’re the first person today who hasn’t lied to me.”

The truth will set us free. And that’s no lie.

John Scott is the National Online Learning Coordinator and a media history instructor at the School of Multimedia Communications, Academy of Art University, San Francisco. He also counsels clients and groups on the art of reinvention.

His debut book “Broken Glass and Barbed Wire” will be released soon.

Follow John on Twitter @johnscottsf.   

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