Pathological liars can’t help themselves from fibbing, so they tell a lot of little lies. They’re easy to spot. But what about the more sinister, covert types? Suave and skilled fabricators don’t bother unless it will help them get what they want. I’m sure you’ve come across many skilled liars… perhaps you yourself have even been one.
1. Tell the truth, vaguely. Lies which aren’t actually lies—truth told in a way that instills a false notion. E.g., “The economy is in a rough patch due to waste and inefficiency…” This is a generalization!
2. Know your audience. Skilled liars can worm their way into anyone’s head. They use cunning methods of empathy, picking up on their target’s interests, likes, and dislikes to gauge their willingness to buy the lie they peddle. Carolyn Saarni, co-editor of the book Lying and Deception in Everyday Life, advises knowing what your audience knows in order to cover your tracks more effectively.
3. Turn up the heat. If your audience becomes suspicious, a savvy liar will raise the bar. They use manipulation to beguile their targets. Think of films about criminals who are hauled in for questioning regarding crimes committed… they seem to use whatever is in their arsenal to distract, seduce, or avoid their interrogator’s questions.
4. Counterattack. A majority of folks are simply ill at ease when it comes to conflict, and that includes fibbing and telling lies, too. Leveraging this discomfort is a trick politicians often use. Think of those nasty retaliatory ads on TV during various campaigns. “So and so overspent last year, do you really think they can manage a budget which is spiraling out of control?” Aggressive responses are used to throw off critics, forcing opponents to wage a defensive battle instead of really tackling key issues.
5. Negotiation. When they’re caught, or even when their lie doesn’t hold much water with their target, liars elude the worst case scenario by negotiating their way out of the hole they dug for themselves. A liar will use this strategy to soften/sidestep the responsibility of angering their target. Trying to lower the blame factor makes their actions seem almost innocuous.
Add your own “favorite” examples of how people have lied to you!
Is your loved one or friend lying to you?
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