Ever sit with someone who is talking on the phone and watch her tell someone something that you know is a lie?
Usually the lies were small, un-necessary prevarications.
They might have been easier and shorter than telling the truth, avoiding a longer conversation.
They might have been told to avoid commitments, used instead of simple assertive saying no.
Sometimes, I've seen my new employees lie for me. "Rob is on another call," she'd say, thinking it was protecting me from taking a call I didn't want to take.
I've made it clear to employees I don't want them to lie for me. "Tell him I am not available now." I might instruct. That's the truth. I am not making myself available. It's a small difference in message, but a huge difference in character. One is a lie. The other is the truth.
I don't understand how people can justify these little lies. Some people prefer to lie over being assertive. Problems with assertiveness is a psychological issue, I guess. But so is lying. And lying throws in problems with character.
The other day, a clerk at a store gave me a dime back, instead of a nickel. I pointed it out to her, not wanting to get her in trouble when the cash register balance was reconciled at the end of the day. "We're out of nickels," she explained. That was cool, as long as she knew. I don't want to sell my integrity for a nickel, and taking advantage of others' mistaked does that.
I took a slap in the face the other day-- went to a movie and the woman offered me a dollar saving for a senior citizen ticket. That one might have been vanity more than character, but I declined-- I have a year to go before I qualify for the 60 year old savings. But I wonder how many people sell their integrity for that dollar.
This is a slippery slope. Call me picky, but I think that little lies accumulate to produce an erosive effect, both on self esteem and character. It really bothers me when national advertisers run TV commercials which include people blatantly lying. That's bad for our society.
I know someone who tells little lies, small things that seem inconsequential on the face of them, separately. "I can't make that dinner we planned," she might say, when she really just changed her mind and doesn't feel like going. "Something came up, so I have to cancel," she says when the only thing that came up was a change of mind, when she could have just said, "I'm not feeling up to it," or "I changed my mind. Let's reschedule something else to do."
I think the accumulation of those little lies added up to affect her ability to trust others, even to love. She's great at influencing and manipulating people, very effective at being liked. But I wonder how deep her self-esteem, which she tries to project, really goes. I wonder if she trusts people's respect for her, since she knows she's built relationships on little lies. And of course, since she engages in her little lies all the time, I wonder if she really believes other people in her life, since we tend to project our own behavior and beliefs onto others.
We've reached a point where police lie routinely to trick prisoners or as part of their investigations. Politicians, well, they do it too. The military does it. Intelligence agencies do it.
Prohibition against lying overall was never one of the Ten Commandments
. There is a proscription against bearing false witness against your neighbor or using the name of God in vain, as in, "I swear to God." But the ten commandments do give a pass to the little lies.
Then again, my personal take is that members of the clergy lie all the time-- sometimes about aspects of their faith, sometimes about what they know about God, sometimes for the sake of power.
We live in a culture where you can lie with your facebook or dating site photo-- using a ten or twenty year old photo. You can lie by omission, leaving things out. You can lie in a plethora of new ways and old ways. That makes it even harder to tell the truth.
Truth is a whole other issue outside of lying. I mean, it is one thing to make a statement that you know is untrue. "Rob is not here to take your phone call." It is another thing to be able to know, discern and provide "the truth" in the news, when there are many interpretations. But what looks like a duck and walks like a duck is usually a duck. The media are often guilty of allowing people to say half truths, to avoid answering questions that get to the truth or to show the full story.
The truth is not going through an evolutioinary process. Truth is truth. But our culture is going through major changes in how it deals with truth and lying. It's something we need to think about, talk about and make conscious decisions about, not simply allow to happen, affected by technologies, media and other cultural factors.
Lots of people lie when they don't have to. It's too bad there's no way to put labeling on lies, like there is on packaged food. If it was possible to create such a warning, it might read something like this:
Little lies can cause long term damage to your psyche, your heart, your trust in others, your relationships, your self esteem, your job stability, even your ability to see reality clearly.
It's a big deal. What do you think?
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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect,
connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media.
Check out his platform at RobKall.com
He is the author of The Bottom-up Revolution; Mastering the Emerging World of Connectivity
He's given talks and workshops to Fortune
500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered
first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and
Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful
people on his Bottom Up Radio Show,
and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and
opinion sites, OpEdNews.com
more detailed bio:
Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind. Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big) to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization (more...)