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Why Do People Lie and How to Deal with Liars

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Why Do People Lie and How to Deal with Liars

“Why did you LIE to me? You tore my heart apart.”

“I had all my faith on you and this is the way you repay me? We are DONE! You lying monster.”

Well, people from time to time encounter similar situations, either being the one to lie or the one to be lied. This is always heartbreaking to discover the cruel truth.

None loves to be lied. But we all lie, don’t we?

Sometimes we forgive the liar. Sometimes we don’t. What makes the difference?

Frequency. And more importantly, intention.

There are lies that aim to harm and to avoid harm. Lying is bad but the intention can be good.

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Simply put, there are two types of lies, harmless and harmful ones.

Not All Lies Are Harmful…

Harmless lies are lies that aren’t intended to cause harm to anyone. Or even for the good of us. They involve distortion or exaggeration of facts. These lies usually come with the following intentions:

Avoid hurting the others

Such lies are told to protect our self-worth or protect us from being hurt by some cruel facts. For example, a mother tells her children their father has gone to somewhere far away and won’t come back for a long time. The fact is their father is a soldier who on his service died in a battle. The mother, in this case, simply doesn’t want their kids to know the death, which is very disheartening, but continue to live a happy life.

Avoid conflicts in social interaction

For this kind of lie, it is told to maintain the pleasantness of any social situation. A good example can be found in a grand premiere. Journalists always start the interview by praising the others’ dressing. It may not be their true opinions but it for sure pleases the interviewees to have a smooth harmonious interview.

Self-protecting by not letting others know our fear and insecurities

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It involves minimization of self-disclosure to hide our fear and insecurities. Personal privacy is usually distorted. Sometimes we simply don’t want the others to know too much about ourselves. Some regretful memories or pitiful past, for example, are usually not disclosed to the others to avoid reminiscence of the painful moments.

Safeguard our pride and self-esteem

This lie is usually told by self-oriented persons but they do not intend to hurt anyone. Instead, they try to boost self confidence or catch attention by exaggerating. It can often be seen on people who rely greatly on the others’ acknowledgement to feel contented or empowered. They will exaggerate on their achievements or experiences to receive a few “Wow” in order to feel good about themselves.

Harmless lies, in spite of its neutral or good intention, may not be actually good. If we never reveal our true self to the others, how are we supposed to establish true friendship? Yet, when compared to harmful lies, they cause much less damage to the others.

Beware of The Poisonous Lies!

Harmful lies, on the other hand, are the true murderers of precious relationships. It begins with evil intentions and manipulates the others. Unreal “facts” are constructed to trick them into doing us a favor. These lies are those we have to be alert.

Gain others’ trust and affection

It involves the distortion of facts to forge an impression that others are of their favor. For example, in this way, we gain trust or affection of the others to have a brighter future in career. This mostly happens in business environment when we want to have more cooperative colleagues or a senior more supportive of ourselves. And this is where flattering and lying begin. Another occasion is when we want an interview or to impress the others in an interview so badly that we have to disguise our true self.

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Evade from responsibilities

We all hate punishments. We never actively look for them but sometimes they just knock on our door. This is the moment we try to lie our way off from them. This is unfair and to be worse, it may lead to an innocent person taking our blame. The most common lie attempts on this occasion has to be in college. When teacher asks for the one who does the bad deeds, we always refuse to confess and point to others.

Take advantage of the others

This harmful lie is told when we want a favor from the others which normally they won’t provide. For example, when we are too reluctant to work and want someone else to share the burden, we will pretend to be in poor condition or to encounter some urgent situations where helps are needed.

There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Deal with Liars

First and foremost, the way we are going to deal with the exposed liar is totally dependent on whether we want to maintain a good relationship with them. In addition, the nature of the lies has to be considered. None wants to be executed on the first trial.

Those who tell harmless lies:

  • Keep it in our heart

Exposing a lie is dangerous. It can put both us and the liar in a very uncomfortable situation. The liar is like a suspect under confrontation. This is harsh to feel and we are sorry for them as they are not intended to harm us.

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Why not keep it secret? Just move on as if we never knew about it. Learning someone’s broken family background? Focus back on the present days and the happy future we will be having with them. If it does not affect us, sometimes it is better not to expose it.

  • Expose the lie but make everyone feel good

Imagine when a friend refused to chill out with us, saying that he/she had to work overtime. Yet, we later found that he/she was at a bar enjoying a beer with another group of friends. In this case, we can try revealing the lie while making the liar feel good.

This can be done by making up a reason for their lies. The liar will then be aware of the fact that we know about the lie but we are trying to smooth everything. More importantly, this may actually promote friendship, knowing we try to avoid the embarrassing confrontation and they are likely not to lie again.

  • Expose the lie but show understanding

The last way is to show understanding to the liar. Tell them how we find it reasonable to tell lies and accept it. Sometimes, lies are told just for self-protection and they want our acceptance and affection rather than a favor or two. In such sense, we should express our understanding and forgive them.

Those who tell harmful lies:

Justice has to be served. Expose it and don’t be afraid of direct confrontation. Bear in mind that they are taking advantage of us and this has to be stopped. In addition to revealing their lies, we should distance ourselves with the liars and be more cautious next time.

More by this author

Jeffrey Lau

Editor. Sport Lover. Animal Lover.

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Last Updated on November 18, 2021

10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

  • honest
  • reliable
  • competent
  • kind and compassionate
  • capable of taking the blame
  • able to persevere
  • modest and humble
  • pacific and can control anger.

The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

“The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

Abigail Van Buren

3. How does this person take the blame?

Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

5. Read their emails.

Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

  • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
  • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
  • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
  • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
  • Too many question marks can show anger
  • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

6. Watch out for the show offs.

Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

8. Their empathy score is high.

Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

“One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

Stendhal

 10. Avoid toxic people.

These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

  • Envy or jealousy
  • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
  • Complaining about their own lack of success
  • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
  • Obsession with themselves and their problems

Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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