We’ve already covered that everyone lies. If you’re currently thinking to yourself in outrage, “Who are you calling a liar?” I urge you to stop and think again.
Last month when your husband asked how much those new strappy sandals cost, did you dismiss the question with a wave of your hand and a flippant, “Oh, they were on sale!”? Or when your boss requested the latest sales numbers, did you respond, “I’m just putting the finishing touches on the report,” when the more accurate answer was, “I haven’t even looked at it yet.”?
These may be white lies, but they’re lies nonetheless. And if you’re anything like the other six billion people currently circling the sun, you’ve told your fair share. But not all liars are created equally. In fact, while people lie for all kinds of reasons, liars themselves typically fall into two categories. Let’s take a closer look.
The Power Liar
The more power you have, the easier it is to lie. And the easier it is to lie, the most power can be acquired.
In her book, “You Can’t Lie to Me,” deception expert Janine Driver details exactly how power liars thrive. Consider this: when the average person tells a lie, his body experiences a spike in the production of the toxic stress hormone cortisol. When powerful people lie, cortisol levels actually decrease.
Not only that, but power liars feel better and think more clearly when they’re lying. So not only does lying becomes a guilt-free experience, but it also offers some serious incentive: the more you do it, get away with it, and prosper, the more addictive it becomes.
While you may be thinking to yourself, “All of this sounds pretty good to me. When can I start?” keep this in mind: while lying may benefit the liar, it often creates an unhealthy balance of power which can wreak havoc on critical societal relationships, such as the ones between a teacher and student or doctor and patient. Furthermore, frequent liars are ultimately more likely to manipulate others, which may not be your preferred mode of social interaction.
Liars With Something to Lose
Even back when we were swinging from trees, we were lying to each other. Monkeys and apes lied for reasons including forming alliances, securing sustenance, and winning mates. In other words, we all got this far by lying to each other.
But it’s not just the primates who reLIE on survival of the fittest, it’s the entire animal kingdom, right down to the spiders. Calling it “human nature,” is an understatement. It’s just plain nature: even flowers “lie” to get pollinated!
So while power liars may become more predisposed to lying and may ultimately enjoy it more, lying is not their exclusive domain. In fact, anyone will lie when the perfect storm of pressure or incentive threatens their tranquil shores. Whether we’re literally trying to protect ourselves or just angling to avoid conflict or hurt feelings, lying is a matter of perceived — or actual — self-preservation.
If you still think power liars come out on top, think again: research indicates that people who lie less tend to have more meaningful personal relationships, as well as better senses of social responsibility. We consider personal fulfillment a pretty good reason to aspire toward truth.
Your Inner Truth Wizard
While the reasons why we lie have evolved beyond getting the largest share of bananas, our capacity to spot lies has diminished. This is not because our natural deception detection mechanisms have lessened. These instincts absolutely remain, but we have learned to willfully disregard them. Herein lies the challenge and reward: Truth Wizards know that learning to tap back into these innate abilities helps us better understand each other and ourselves.
One last word: now that you know you’re being lied to, you may find it harder to trust. I urge you to resist the temptation to enlist in the lie police and instead commit to becoming an agent of truth.
Until we visit again ...
Keep It Real and Always Live at Level 10,
- Mark Call
Truth Wizards Radio Podcast Host
'Certified' Body Language Trainer