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Put Up Your Hand If You Ever Lie

Put Up Your Hand If You Ever Lie

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    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.

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    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?

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    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.

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    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?

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    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.

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    Last Updated on January 15, 2019

    How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

    How to Talk to Strangers Without Feeling Awkward

    Many of us feel awkward talking to strangers. I’m a very outgoing person, even though I sometimes feel uncomfortable walking up to someone and asking a question or starting a conversation. I consider myself pretty high up on the extrovert meter. So what is it that makes us pause and become worried or anxious about talking to people we don’t know?

    In this article, we will discuss why we feel this way as well as some tips on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

    Step right up, don’t be shy!

    Why We Feel Awkward Talking to Strangers

    The next time you feel uncomfortable talking to a stranger, tell yourself that’s completely normal. There are numerous reasons why it’s actually natural to feel awkward talking to strangers:

    Our Stress Levels Rise Around Strangers

    Numerous studies have show that our levels of cortisol go up when we are around strangers.[1] Cortisol is the hormone inside of us which produces stress responses.[2]
    So there you go, right off the bat you can see part of your standard response to strangers is due to a chemical reaction!

    A very interesting by product of increased cortisol is that it makes us less empathetic. More than likely this can be traced to our evolution. The increase in the cortisol and the corresponding decrease in empathy makes us want to stay away from strangers. We are biologically wired to feel concern around strangers.

    Evolution Taught Us to Be Wary

    Evolution has also taught us to be wary of strangers in general. Humans as a whole have spent a large chunk of their history banded together in small protective groups. We did this in order to help protect each other and maximize resources.

    When you think about it in this context, outsiders to our small groups or strangers are considered potential threats. Fear of strangers is common across almost all human cultures.

    Culturally Conditioned

    We can also thank our society for helping us feel uncomfortable and sometimes afraid of strangers. The term “stranger danger” is something most of us can relate to either growing up or raising kids. Or both.

    I remember hearing this from my parents, mostly about not getting in someone’s car I didn’t know. And as the father of 2 teenage girls, you can be sure I’ve talked to them about this very concept more times that they want to hear.

    The thought that strangers can be dangerous is built into us as it is. Toss in the amplification of the media on strangers doing things such as kidnapping kids and it takes it to an even higher level.

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    Now that we’ve reviewed some of the reasons why we are nervous, let’s look at why you should talk to strangers more.

    Benefits of Getting over the Awkwardness

    Let’s take a quick look at some of the advantages of how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward. These are some high level benefits of talking to strangers.

    1. Broadens Your Network

    After you talk to someone, you didn’t know previously they become someone you know at least a little bit. This alone helps broaden your network of people you know. This is helpful in many ways whether it is work related or socially related.

    2. Improves Your Communication Skills

    I am a huge proponent of the value of solid communication skills and have written about it often. The more you talk to people, especially people you don’t know, the better your communication skills become.

    Interacting with a wider variety of people will bring the added benefit of improving your communication skills.

    3. Continually Learning

    So many of us don’t actively seek to learn new things. This is one of the primary keys to staying engaged in life and our own personal self fulfillment.

    Almost every time I speak to someone I didn’t know previously, I’ve learned something new. When we speak to strangers, it pushes us out of our comfort zones and we tend to learn new things.

    4. Increases Self Confidence

    Every time we learn to do something we were previously anxious about, we feel better about ourselves.

    Forcing ourselves to talk to strangers will lead to increased self confidence. As we get more and more comfortable doing something that previously made us feel awkward, our self confidence will go up and up.

    So, how to talk to strangers to reap these benefits?

    How to Talk to Strangers

    Here are some tips to on how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

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    1. Say Hello

    Putting “say hello” first may seem a bit obvious but let’s take a deeper look. Much of the social awkwardness when speaking to strangers is simply breaking the ice. The first words that will engage someone.

    Most people will respond when someone says hello or hi to them. And those that don’t, you probably don’t want to talk to anyway.

    Practice being the person that opens the door to a conversation. Say hello.

    2. Ask About Them

    Something that I have noticed over the years is that people love to talk about themselves. Even fairly private people tend to open up when asked about events in their lives.

    You can ask leading questions that get people to talk about themselves and recent events. Things like recent movies watched or the summer vacation are great to get someone talking.

    As a father, I also know that people love to talk about their kids. Asking about kids is a fairly easy topic to bring up and in general, most people will expound upon all the great things their kids do or are involved with.

    3. Just Do It

    One of the biggest reasons we don’t do things we want to or know we should is because we overthink it. Quit thinking about it so much and just do it.

    When you give yourself the time to analyze every little angle about a situation, you also give plenty of time to talk yourself out of it. You’ll wind up thinking what if this happens or what if that happens.

    Try to force yourself to jump right in without thinking about it too much. Whenever I have done this, I always feel great about it afterwards, no matter how it turned out.

    4. Don’t Take It Personal

    One of the greatest lessons in life I ever learned was don’t take anything personally. We all go through life with our own sets of experiences and see things through our own lens. The way people react to different situations has almost nothing to do with us. It has to do with previous experiences and the way people feel about things other than us.

    When someone’s reaction isn’t what you’d hoped or expected, chances are it has nothing to do with you. Remember that and keep it in context.

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    5. Get a Chuckle If Possible

    I used the word chuckle purposely because it makes me laugh. In my opinion, it’s one of those funny words. We all like to laugh because it makes us feel good. And when someone makes us laugh, we typically remember those people in a positive light.

    One of the best ways to make a conversation easy and free flowing is to get some laughter going. It doesn’t mean you have to be the master joke teller or anything. See if you can work in a way to make the person you are talking to get a smile or some laughter in. In fact, laughing at yourself maybe a nice try.

    6. Detach

    A great feeling is when you don’t mind which way something turns out, that you will be fine no matter what happens. Kind of like when I watch my two favorite football teams play against each other. I don’t really care who wins, I just want a fun game.

    Treat talking to strangers the same way. You don’t really care how the conversation goes because you are detaching from the outcome. Make it a fun time with yourself and if the conversation goes well, awesome! If not then no big deal, move on.

    7. Share Your Stories

    Well, all like to feel connected to other people. And many times we wind up hanging out with people that we have things in common with. No surprise here.

    To help with how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward, tell stories that have commonalities with the person you are talking to. Kids are an easy one. I have a daughter who was a competitive cheerleader and now plays club volleyball. I have instant connection and stories with strangers I speak with who have kids that play sports. It’s easy to relate to.

    So when you are speaking to a stranger and you have a story or mutual connection point, bring it up.

    8. Give a Compliment

    Almost everyone likes hearing a compliment, whether they admit to it or not. As a general rule, we don’t give out enough compliments. It’s amazing how one small remark someone tosses your way about how good you look can literally make your entire day.

    When you are speaking with someone you don’t know, see if you can work a compliment in. Nothing creepy here. Not a good idea to tell someone you just met that they are the prettiest or handsomest person you ever met. However, if you can share how you like their tattoo or shoes or something like that, it will help put the conversation into an easy going, smiling place.

    9. Relax Your Body Language

    If you go into a situation all worried and nervous, it shows on your body. Your shoulders are tensed up, there’s a look of consternation on your face, things like that.

    When you engage a stranger in conversation, make it a point to relax your body language. Take a deep breath before you engage the person, let your body relax, and put a smile on your face. This will help relax you and it has the added benefit of putting the other person more at ease.

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    If they see that you are relaxed, it helps them relax. Plus having open, engaging body language is very conducive to inviting someone to open up into a conversation with you.

    10. Practice, Practice, Practice

    Like everything else in life, talking to strangers gets easier with practice. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.

    Make it a point to talk to several strangers each week and it will definitely help you relax as you do it more and more.

    After a while, it will become something you don’t even think about, you just do it. And that takes all of the awkwardness out of being in these type situations.

    The Bottom Line

    As we have seen, it is perfectly natural to feel awkward talking to strangers. We are biologically built that way and we have our own society constantly warning us how dangerous it is. It’s no wonder we feel awkward talking to strangers!

    There are numerous benefits to learning to be more comfortable talking to strangers. See if you can employ some of the techniques mentioned to learn how to talk to strangers without feeling awkward.

    Once you start practicing speaking with strangers more often and utilizing some of the tips, you will become more comfortable doing so. This in turn will lead to a learned new skill and increased self confidence.

    Remember, everyone you know was a stranger at one time. Now get out there and make some new friends.

    More Resources About Strengthening Communication Skills

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

    Reference

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