People lie. Some people tell the odd white lie; some lie so they don’t have to tell a difficult truth (to themselves or someone else); some people lie habitually.
Most people don’t become habitual liars because telling a lie, at least for personal gain, causes the amygdala, which lies (no pun intended) deep in the brain, makes them feel bad about the lie. But the more lies a person tells, the more the ‘feel-bad-about-the-lie’ response fades. As that response fades, it becomes easier, and easier, and easier, to lie. And the bigger the lies become.
Lying is a slippery slope. Habitual liars become habitual liars because they lie a lot.
You may know an habitual liar. It might someone you work with, someone you negotiate with, someone you ‘meet’ on the Internet, a neighbour or even a friend.
You probably can’t do much to stop a chronic liar lying to you. But you may be able to head off other people’s lies.
Here are two easy ways:
- Tell the truth yourself. Since people tend to respond in kind, truth-telling encourages truth-telling.
- Get to know people, because people are less likely to lie to someone they know, like and trust than they are to a stranger.
Here are three slightly more complicated, but also effective, ways to ward off lies:
- When you make an assumptive statement or ask an assumptive question, put a negative, or pessimistic, spin on it. When the spin goes against the interests of the other person, they’ll disagree with it. When it’s the truth, they’re like to agree with it rather than tell an outright lie by contradicting it.The reason this works is that people tend to agree with assumptions and assumptive questions, which means they’ll agree with an incorrect assumption when it’s in their interests to do so. But when the assumption is incorrect and goes against their interests, people are willing to disagree with it and set the record straight.
- Don’t let spin and articulate avoidance fool you. Inarticulate honesty is always preferable to articulate lies and confuscations.
- When you as a question or make an assumptive statement, make sure the question is answered and the assumption isn’t artfully avoided.Bamboozling people with eloquence and avoiding answering questions are two other ways people skirt the truth. To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, remember your assumptive comments and questions and make sure they’re addressed. Write them down if you need to and don’t move on until you have your answer.
Encouraging the truth isn’t only in your own best interests. It also helps others by making the slippery slope of lying harder to slip down.
Here’s a link to a short but comprehensive tip on how to write a resume to get your foot in the interviewer’s door. It’s from Business Insider, so you know it’s good.
Happy listening and learning!
You’ve probably seen the diagram of a small circle, labelled ‘Things you can control’ with a larger circle around it, labelled ‘Things you can affect’ and a much larger circle around that, labelled ‘Things you can neither control nor affect’. That huge outer circle includes things like the weather and the economy. In the ‘Things you can affect’ circle are matters like your family’s happiness and the results you get at work. In the ‘Things you can control’ circle is basically yourself: your behaviour and your attitude.
That diagram of three circles leads us to Denial, Blame, Excuses and Responsibility. So imagine this: You’ve had a hard day and you’ve finally made it home and are sitting comfortably with your feet up, trying to chill out. The kids are in the kitchen and you hear a crash, tinkle, tinkle. ‘What happened?’ you ask. And what’s the response? ‘Nothing!’ That’s Denial; something has clearly happened.
So you say, ‘Don’t tell me nothing! I heard something break!’ And you hear ‘It wasn’t my fault, it was his fault.’ That’s Blame.
So you say, ‘I don’t care whose fault it is–what happened?’ And you hear, ‘The bottle was slippery and it fell out of my hand.’ That’s an Excuse.
Wouldn’t it be nice to hear, ‘I dropped a bottle. I’m just getting a mop to clean it up.’ That’s taking Responsibility.
Quite a few adults have turned Denial, Blame and Excuse into something of an art form, which means they focus not on the little inner circle of Control, but on the big outer circle of No Control. So nothing changes.
Let’s take a look at the first refuge or the irresponsible: Blame. Someone slips on the pavement. Do they blame the council for not sweeping up fallen leaves or do they take responsibility for not taking care how they’re walking? Blame is a great defence mechanism. It preserves your sense of self-esteem by avoiding admitting to your own shortcomings. But you’ll keep slipping on leaves.
Someone leaves the sausages in the frying pan too long and they burn. Do they take responsibility for being distracted or do they blame their partner for not doing their share of the housework so they have to multitask. Blaming others is great when you’re in attack mode. And it’s great when it’s easier to blame someone else rather than accept responsibility. But you’ll just start an argument and keep burning the sausages.
Blame is also handy when you think you can lie and get away with it. ‘I didn’t drop the bottle and leave the mess behind.’ Then you cross your fingers and hope no one saw you drop the bottle.
Of course, not everything is our responsibility. But when it is, we need to step up to it. The more we play the blame game, the more we lose. And the less we learn.
Managers, team leaders and parents take note: Step up when you need to. And teach your team members and your children to step up, too.
A child asks Dad to play Scrabble or play catch and but he’s too busy. An employee stops by a manager’s desk for a quick chat and she carries on with what she was doing while listening with half an ear.
How aware are you of the messages you send people? Do they ever say ‘You’re an interruption’ or ‘I don’t care’, even when you don’t mean them to?
Everyone’s time is precious and that means everyone needs to choose how they spend it. And those choices are important.
Children spell ‘love’ differently that adults – they spell it: t-i-m-e. And to employees, ‘time’ can spell ‘I c-a-r-e’.
So this week, pause and give some thought to whether you’re spending enough of your time on what, and who, are most important to you. What you were doing can often wait when giving the gift of time spells ‘love’ to a child, or ‘I care’ to a friend or employee.