“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.
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
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.
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.
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.