Advertising
Advertising

Put Up Your Hand If You Ever Lie

Put Up Your Hand If You Ever Lie

crossed

    Put up Your Hand if You Ever Lie.

    If your hand went up, then we now know you’re a liar. If it didn’t go up then we know you’re an even bigger liar.

    When asked the question “are you a liar?” nearly 97% of people answer “no”. When the remaining 3% (self-confessed liars) are subjected to questions calibrating their real, rather than perceived, honesty, they turn out to be, on average, 28 times more honest than the people who claimed they never lie. One of the most prolific liars in history was US president Richard Nixon, who researchers found to have lied on record 837 times on a single day.

    Geeze, that’s a lot of fibbing.

    Why the interest in lying?

    As you know, I’m a student of human behaviour: what we do, when we do it, how we do it, and why we do it. In the field of behavioural psychology there aren’t too many things that interest me more than the subject of dishonesty. Or is it honesty? Anyway, I’m referring to the propensity we humans have to lie. All humans. In my job I listen to (and look at) a lot of people. Since 1987 I have personally completed over 40,000 one-on-one, face-to-face sessions. Close proximity. I get to see the pupils dilate and constrict. The nervous rash appearing on the neck. The facial ticks arise. The postural change. The awkward fidgeting. I notice the change in the pitch of the voice. And the increase in respiration. The lack of eye contact. The shift in emotional state. The defensive body language. The contradictions in their story. The anger. The denial. And often, the tears. Hence, my very absorbent clothing.

    Advertising

    Listen to what they’re not saying.

    How can we listen to someone who isn’t speaking? Easy. Use our other senses; they will tell us what our ears can’t. We know that communication is about seven percent verbal so it’s only logical to conclude that we will learn more about people (what they think, feel, believe, expect, fear, know, have done) by watching them, than we would by listening to them. Not to say we shouldn’t listen, of course. I’m always more fascinated with what people don’t say because by saying nothing (about a certain matter) they are saying something. People are “speaking” all the time; we just need to learn their language. Pet owners will understand this concept. Once we understand that the verbal stuff is only a minor part of communication and human interaction, our relationships and reality change and our awareness shifts dramatically. If you can’t be bothered researching (and who can?) just watch an episode or three of Lie To Me. Even though it’s ‘only’ a TV show, there’s some pretty cool science and research behind it all. In other words; the truth about liars.

    How often we fib

    The average person lies 114 times every day of their life. So if you live to be eighty, you’re gonna tell somewhere around 3.3 million fibs over the course of your lifetime. Wowzer!! Can you believe that?

    Don’t. I made it up. See how easy that was?

    The truth about lies

    Of course, it’s virtually impossible to acquire accurate and broadly representative statistics regarding how many times the average person lies each day – being as we’re so predisposed to… well, lying. And anyway, who’s gonna keep count? Nobody wants to be seen as a pathological liar – or any kind of liar – so even when it comes to research, we’ll continue to lie about our lying. After all, who’s gonna be honest about their dishonesty? And there-in lies (pun intended) the challenge; in order to gain reliable data we need to rely on people’s honesty. There’s some irony for you. Take a peek at the following report from the University of Massachusetts:

    AMHERST, Mass. – Most people lie in everyday conversation when they are trying to appear likable and competent, according to a study conducted by University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert S. Feldman and published in the most recent Journal of Basic and Applied Social Psychology. The study, published in the journal’s June issue, found that 60 percent of people lied at least once during a 10-minute conversation and told an average of two to three lies. “People tell a considerable number of lies in everyday conversation. It was a very surprising result. We didn’t expect lying to be such a common part of daily life,” Feldman said. The study also found that lies told by men and women differ in content, though not in quantity. Feldman said the results showed that men do not lie more than women or vice versa, but that men and women lie in different ways. “Women were more likely to lie to make the person they were talking to feel good, while men lied most often to make themselves look better,” Feldman said.

    What? Men lie to impress people! I find that hard to believe. BTW, have I told you how much I’m bench pressing lately?

    Advertising

    Some Common Fibs

    Lie: Yep, I’m on my way now.
    Truth: I’ll leave in ten minutes. Or twenty.

    Lie: No, your arse is tiny.
    Truth: You look like a f**king yak from back here.

    Lie: If you don’t go to sleep, Santa won’t come next week.
    Truth: He’ll come (won’t he?).

    Lie: The dog ate my homework.
    Truth: There ain’t no homework. Or dog.

    Lie: Yep, this assignment is all my work.
    Truth: I am the cut and paste king.

    Advertising

    Lie: I was working late.
    Truth: I’m a Dirtbag.

    Lie: No, I’m busy tonight.
    Truth: I don’t like you.

    Lie: I’ll get back to you.
    Truth: I’ll never contact you.

    Lie: Yep, I’ve nearly finished.
    Truth: I haven’t started.

    Lie: I’m really careful with my food.
    Truth: Careful not to let others see how much I eat.

    Lie: No, I’ll be fine (sob).
    Truth: Can I have some attention and sympathy?

    Advertising

    Lying Etiquette

    So now we’ve established that you’re part of the Pants-on-Fire Fraternity…

    1. What are your lying rules?
    2. When is it okay to lie? (an example?)
    3. Is it okay to lie if we have noble intentions?
    4. Should we ever lie to our kids? (an example?)
    5. They say “the truth will set you free” but perhaps sometimes a strategic lie will save someone a lot of pain – what do you think?
    6. What about you more spiritual and/or religious (not always the same thing) folk, what are your thoughts?
    7. Is deception (not sharing certain information perhaps) the same as a lie?
    8. Have someone else’s lies impacted your reality in a big way?
    9. Are you aware of your lying?
    10. Surely, it’s okay to lie to your girlfriend about her upcoming ’surprise’ birthday party?

    I don’t expect you to answer all of the above questions (or any for that matter) but I thought they might be good conversation-starters. Off you go Pinocchio.

    And in answer to your question…

    Q. Do you ever lie Craig?
    A. Only when I’m awake.

    Other than that, never.

    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

    Why Is Goal Setting Important to a Truly Fulfilling Life? Do You Make These 10 Common Mistakes Before Weighing Yourself? If your Childhood Sucked – It’s Time to Stop Blaming Your Parents! Exploring Relationships with the Single Weirdo Education Should be More than Academic Basics

    Trending in Communication

    1 19 Golden Pieces of Relationship Advice From the Experts 2 Signs Of Low Self-Esteem And The Root Causes You Might Not Know 3 How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship 4 How to Live in the Moment and Stop Worrying About the Past or Future 5 This Is What Happens When You Move Out Of the Comfort Zone

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

    Advertising

    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

    Advertising

    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

    Advertising

    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

    Advertising

    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

    More Articles About Effective Communication

    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Read Next