Lying is an art. And all liars are artists. Just like any other form of art, there are those that we clearly see as grand masters at it. As a teacher and a keen observer of people, I’ve seen and experienced just about all forms and techniques of lying. Let’s take a look at the top three techniques:
Technique#1: the amnesia
“Hey, didn’t you promise that you’d drive me home after the meeting?” “Oh sorry, I forgot”
“Weren’t you the one who proposed this stupid idea in the first place?” “I was? I don’t remember doing it.”
I have a ‘friend’ who LOOOOOVES using this technique. She likes to commit to lots of stuff, but also likes to back out of most of them. And her defense? You got it, the blank helpless look and the words “I don’t remember”. As if that’s enough of a reason for breaking a promise. But apparently, for her, it is a justifiable reason.
Another experience I had with this was with this jerk who thought I was hitting on him. One time, I posted a status message on my Facebook informing my friends that we had one slot left for an out of town trip and if anyone was interested, to just contact me. Well, he did. And he was saying things like “I really want to go, cause I’ve never been there.” So, as etiquette dictates, I extended an invitation to him. Nothing wrong with that, right? He ended up saying no. Ok, fine. Anyway, fast forward to a few months later, I learned that he was courting a close friend of mine who’s living in another country. He recounted this story to my friend, and made it out like I was the one who contacted him and was forcing him to come, blah, blah, blah. Fortunately, my sister got wind of this and told our friend the true story behind it. So of course, the girl asked him about it. He suddenly developed amnesia and now couldn’t remember what really happened.
Technique#2: selective narrative
People use this because technically, they’re not lying. How does this work? Well, they tell what really happened – in a condensed way. They select only the good parts and leave out the parts that will expose them for the liar that they are.
One time, I got to my first period class and found one of my female students crying hysterically with some CAT students comforting her. When I asked her what happened, she said that she got really mad because the CAT students (yes, the very ones who were comforting her) were teasing her to this boy that she really really hates (as in they have an ongoing feud for two years and counting). Add to that, she was so distracted by the teasing, she tripped on a bag and fell on her butt. Double humiliation. Of course, I got mad at the CAT students. They were supposed to be the caretakers after all, not the bullies. By this time, unfortunately, the CAT students have already gone to their classes. But I saw their commander walk by and I called him and related the story to him. Then I asked him to reprimand his staff. He did so, and even reported the incident to their chief commander. And this is where the lying began. When asked what happened, they only told the good parts – how they helped the girl when she tripped, how they comforted the girl, etc. etc., conveniently leaving out the first part of the story (why the girl tripped and why she was crying in the first place). Furthermore, they had to nerve to write on the incident report that I merely jumped to conclusions when I saw the girl crying! If this is how good they lie in high school, I dread to think of how they’re doing right now in college.
Technique#3: the turnaround
You expose someone for the liar that they are, and they’ll turn things around and start attacking YOU. They’ll play the victim and be pathetic and all that and make it seem like you’re the one who’s being mean. For me, this is the coward’s way. Can’t take the heat, so they’ll shift it to somebody else. And in a culture where being the underdog is almost always equated as being the good guy, I know a lot of people who resort to this sneaky tactic.
I’m not saying that I’m perfect; that I’ve never lied. I admit that at one time or another, I have resorted to these techniques as well. But little by little, and with God’s grace, I am learning to be more honest and careful with the promises I make and the words that I let out of my mouth. Perhaps we all should. Because the lies that we make, they can hurt others; they can even destroy others.
“Make yourself an honest man, and then you may be sure there is one less rascal in the world.” ~Thomas Carlyle