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Monday, June 19, 2006

Why We Lie? ನಾವ್ಯಾಕೆ ಸುಳ್ಳು ಹೇಳ್ತೇವೆ?

ಈ ಪೋಸ್ಟ್ ನ ಕನ್ನಡ ಅನುವಾದಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಕ್ಲಿಕ್ಕಿಸಿ.[To read this post in Kannada Language click here]

Disclaimer: This post doesn't intend to hurt any one who might have lied me/others. This is just an introspection from my view point. Please don't take this personally.

Most of us lie on different occasions, either out of compulsion or out of instinct.

This post gives my opinion on why people lie and why we don’t avoid it.

I’m NOT referring to lies told to our superiors: like student telling teacher why he couldn’t finish the assignment on time or an employee explaining his boss why he couldn’t come to office the other day. I’m referring to peer to peer lies we use in course of daily business with our friends/colleagues etc. Such lies are often executed with good intention (like Not to hurt the other by telling real truth, which may not be pleasant to hear), however they may hurt more than the bitter truth when you detect that someone you trusted did lie to you.

Consider some of these situations:

Abbreviations

I: myself
R: Respondent (my friend/colleague/relative/others as the case may be)

Case 1:
I: Did you read my blog?
R: Ya. Its good. I liked it
I: Which post you liked most?
R: Err…I just glanced through…Didn’t read in details…They’re good
Comment:
Now a simple and straight forward answer could have been any of the following:
a. "I didn’t find enough time to read them" or
b. "I read first two lines and stopped as it was not interesting/I’d no time…" or
c."The design of blog is good but I have no patience to read all those stuff "
But very few people give real opinion.

Case 2:
I: Will you join me for that quiz competition this Sunday at Sheshadri Memorial Hall?

Expected answer for questions of above type is Boolean:

Yes I’m coming or
No I’m not coming. (With reasons being fully optional)

That simplifies the process and I’ll be able to proceed with the plan. But many people do not wish to say NO and hence they cause us much more inconvenience by making statements like “I’m not sure”, “I’ll see”, “I’ll let you know”, “I’ll tell you later” etc.
This kind of indecisive statements put the other person in great trouble-I can neither count them in and proceed, nor count them out and find an alternative. And most of these statements eventually result in “NO”.


To avoid inconvenience of above type I started keeping things formal: This is the deal, this is what is expected from you, and I need your response before this date and time, beyond which I’ll count you out and proceed.

Though this approach is not appreciated by many, it simplifies the process for me.

Case 3

Background: I came to know accidentally that one of old friends was accessible by a mobile number. But he/she had never given me the number. So I mailed and asked:
“Are you /were you accessible by means of a mobile number?”

Expected answer was:
1. Yes I was accessible by a mobile number (mine/friend’s/room-mate’s) and, (I don’t want to give you/I forgot to give you) OR
2. it’s none of your business, I’m not bound to disclose.

But when the other person tries to prove that he/she was not accessible by a mobile number, it hurts.

Above are three examples when someone did lie while he/she could’ve spoken out the genuine answer.

So what? What is the big deal if someone tells some simple harmless lies?


Friendship is built on trust and respect for each other. There’re no laws applicable on friendship and the disputes arising among friends can’t be taken to court unless there’s a civil/criminal offense. If someone tells you a simple lie, there’s nothing you can do. There’s no binding agreement that your friend should speak nothing but truth. Even if you manage to prove that he/she lied, there’s no section in Indian Penal Code (IPC) that can be applied in this situation. So what will you do? If you try to fight with your friend trying to prove that he/she lied, you’ll only worsen the situation. Technically or legally you have no authority over your friend and you can’t get angry either.

Sit back and take stock.

Sometimes people lie because they don’t want to appear harsh and hurt you. Their intention will be good but over a period of time this kind of lies will have negative effect
(Like telling someone he/she is a good singer while the truth is otherwise. In long run can these lies do spoil you) In these situations if the person is close enough then you may sit and tell him/her not to lie and give his/her true opinion/genuine feedback. In other cases it makes better sense to ignore these lies.

People also lie because they don’t want to reject you/your request outright. When they hesitate to say an outright “NO” they choose to kill you in phases. First they buy time in giving their response, and then finally when it turns out to be negative, they give wide range of excuses as to why “they were interested but couldn’t make it” When you identify that the other person is just not interested, your best bet would be to withdraw. You may succeed making them say “Yes” but that induced interest/acceptance will be more because of your begging/pressure/force/temptation/threat than from their heart. In my opinion it would be better if we identify this threshold and abandon the pursuit beyond that point. (For example, if someone doesn’t reply your mails for months while they’re online sending forwards, and doing other activities, the reason simple: They didn’t feel like mailing you. As simple as that- It’s just a matter of interest than anything else-say time/net access/convenience/workload etc (if Arcelor has turned down Mittal Steel's acquisition deal even after 70% premium, its just that Arcelor doesn't wish to sell itself to Mittal. It's neither money nor anything else)

Third kind of lies is “Damage Control” Lies. People lie to cover up some of their mistakes/previously told lies. Effect of these lies compound fast and a series of unplanned lies can put people in deep trouble. In this situation it helps to make it crystal clear to people that you’re not buying their lies and tell them that truth will be their best option.

One more kind of lie is “Ego Lie”. People lie just to keep their self esteem high. Like boasting that: “I was on a business trip to Delhi last week” If you prove in front of a group that this person lied (i.e he didn't go to Delhi last week), he/she will find it too hard to digest the insult. Since they’re totally harmless, ignore them. But make an entry of these lies, as it may come handy in future.

Last kind of lies are lies told with bad intention. These are hard to detect because those who lie with bad intentions usually come with enough preparations to convince you that they're speaking truth, and takes a while before you realize that they betrayed you. Discussing this kind of lies is out of scope of this post at this moment.

On the contrary I’ve come across very few people who’re extremely honest in their statements and straight forward in their approach:

Consider these feedbacks:
1.“I stopped reading so and so post after first two paragraphs as it was not interesting
2. The logic you adopted in this program is excellent but you could’ve implemented it in a much better way
3. I was upset with you for so and so reason, hence I didn’t reply your mail last week

4. Nobody likes your formal mails...Why don't you change your strategy?

These kinds of statements are tough to digest in one attempt, and you may not appreciate the person who said that. But when you sit back and analyze you’ll no doubt respect such persons because they tell you where you're wrong and what you should focus on. Unless you admit the truth and rectify from your end you can’t progress and had it not been for people like this, you’d have never come across your mistakes.

You should treasure your friends who give you a constructive criticism.


A small story to end the post:

Four friends had a party previous night and were late to college next day, wherein they had an exam to take. Since they were late they couldn’t take the exam. They met principal and requested for the permission to write that exam the next day. On being asked why they’re late they told they went to village for cremation of one of their grand mother and on their way back the car had a flat tyre, hence they couldn’t report on time.

Principal agreed and next day they were made to sit in four different rooms and question papers were handed over. It had only 2 questions:
1. What’s your name? 1Mark
2. Which wheel of the car got punctured? 99 Marks


If you’ve to lie, you need lot of planning and preparation. You need to maintain consistency in your lie and you may need supplementary evidence to support your lie. If you can't manage these, I advice avoid telling lie and be honest in your words as far as possible. In this information world it doesn’t take 007 style spying to cross check the information. Simple analytical/logical analysis of the statements made, and if necessary a quick reference to public/private source of information is all it takes to see if a person means what he/she says. If you lie some one is bound to detect it. One may not make an issue out of your lie or announce it to everyone. But it seriously hampers your credibility and image. The fact remains in someone’s mind that you lied and hence can’t be fully trusted. Your lie may not create any catastrophe but your simple lies when repeated time and again will slowly spoil the relationship.

Keep in mind you always have an option to say "NO Comments".

Comments are welcome. Again above is not meant to hurt anyone.


ಈ ಪೋಸ್ಟ್ ನ ಕನ್ನಡ ಅನುವಾದಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಕ್ಲಿಕ್ಕಿಸಿ.[To read this post in Kannada Language click here]


Thanks for reading. If you've liked the above post, you might like following similar posts as well:Check them out:
Rejection Handling
How Busy is Too Busy?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hai man,

Read Ur post. It was good!!!!!! Ur annotation is good!!!!!!!


I like three things in ur writing:


1) It wont be imaginary, it picturize the Day to day Incidents which we come across in our home, work.

2) Ur approach

3) Simple and powerful.



Ur last posting about lie is good. Even I have lied in many occasions due to reasons u narrated.


Good!!!! Man u have got good flavour for writing


Keep ur Writing going on!!!!!!!

ALL THE BEST

Wishes

Balaji.p

Supreetha said...

Hi,
Have been following up on your articles whenever I find time. Though I find your points of view interesting many a times, I beg to differ this time.

All in life is not Black and White.If you could do that clearcut distinction, life would be much simpler. And lots of authors who write books on "communicational skills" would be losing on their livelihoods.I'd like to make a few points here:

1) If one is uncertain of his/her plans,and giving 100% committment there and then may put that person in a crunch. So I don't think taking some time to plan and then getting back with an answer makes that person a liar.
2) A person who maybe using somebody else's mobile phone for a while may not wish to give out his/her no. to everyone because it would be a problem later when he/she reurns the phone/cell no. back to its owner.So if he/she is in such a position, I think being a friend,you(or anyone for that matter) should be patient enough to try to know the reason.

In today's busy world when people are juggling between work and home and meeting/socializing with friends; may not manage to keep their promise once in a while.

Being truthful is very important. But there are various situations governing the decisions that people make everyday. Just because it did not please you doesn't make the other person a liar.
And if you have been a recipient of the situations time and again, maybe it is the time to have a closer look at your own attitude.

I'm not justifying outright liars here. They are truly abominable. I hope you take this opinion in the right spirit.

Happy writing!
Supreetha

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Dear Balaji P
Thanks for the comments. Will be expecting your readership for my future posts.

Supreetha,
Thanks for the comments.

Your statements are correct from the given point of view and are well accepted as well as respected.

For the record let me put my opinion on the two points you’ve raised.

I classify a statement as lie when there’s substantial difference between actual statement made and material fact available for cross check. The whole post is based on this simple logic. The statement pleases me or not is not the criteria.

1.Totally agreed that it’s not possible to give Boolean answers all the time. But with your instinct and experience you’ll know if the other person really needs time for a decision or not. After giving a reasonable time and any benefit of doubt, if you don’t get a genuine statement and excuses given do not have an analytical/logical/scientific backing you can conclude the other person doesn’t mean what he/she say. (This again varies from person to person hence final conclusion can be best left to individuals)
2. Had the statement been “I’ve given my friends number for few friends for emergency purpose and didn’t give you since I felt it was not necessary” or “ I was accessible by my friend’s number but I didn’t give it to you as I felt that would hamper my friend’s privacy”, it can be accepted. But a statement “I was never accessible on phone” is fully contradictory to available fact hence I term it as a lie. The purpose of lie may vary, but the point is he/she didn’t mean what he/she said.


As in everywhere, there can be exceptional cases and right people may be caught in wrong situations. I’m neither framing a universal guideline on lies nor advocating any action against those who don’t mean what they say. My only point is if “you say something while the truth proves to be something else” it’s bound to upset others, irrespective of the reasons behind it. And in my personal opinion we should avoid doing that.

Again thanks for your readership, time and feedback.

Anonymous said...

Good post man..one thing..man's thinking and visualizing the things are not linear in the sense its hard to accept the truth bcoz we have been brought up that way by our parents, may be by our society and hence we lie for things in our day to day life.....think....
cheers.........sKrM

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes Skrm, our society sometime forces us to lie...

Swetha Iyer said...

Quite an interesting post here.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks for dropping by and commenting Swetha

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