Want To Know Who Is Lying To You?

Learn How To Spot and Prevent Deception

Are you lying to your family, friends or spouse, not disclosing information or only partly revealing the truth? Do you lie to your coworkers or boss at work? What may be even worse—are any of the important people in your life lying to you?

The Truth About Lying

If we are honest about it, we all lie. The statistics are astonishing! We lie in1 of every 5 interactions each day; in a 10-minute conversation, 60% of us lie 2 or 3 times. Nearly half of Americans lie to their partners about money (Honey, it was 50% off!). Brace yourself: we are lied to between 10 and 200 times a day!

Why People Lie

The motivation for lying is usually tied to self-esteem or self-preservation, particularly avoidance of social conflict. Sometimes we lie to save face: to cover up for an embarrassing mistake at work. Sometimes we pour some sugar on it: “Those jeans don’t make your butt look big!” Maybe we need an easy excuse for tardiness: “The expressway was a parking lot!”

We lie to ourselves too. We want to believe our motivations are pure even when we are blatantly self-serving: Husband says to his wife, “Honey, I’m taking you out to dinner tonight.” when it’s his turn to cook.

Lies sting the most when they hide betrayal. Have you ever discovered your girlfriend cheated on you and lied about it?

Deceptions take 3 different forms: Omissions, Half-Truths, and Full-On Lies.

Here are examples of each, followed by tips for avoiding getting snagged by them.


Jan and Trish had been BFFs since they met in high school. They liked the same boys, shopped the same trends and dreamed of careers in entertainment. Both studied communications—hoping to find a way into a high profile public relations firm.

Jan got the first break by getting hired as an assistant at a dream firm. Jan invited Trish to celebrate at a hot new club where Jan arranged to meet up with her new coworkers. While Trish was in the bathroom, Jan was invited to a party where she could network with important people in the field. Rather than tell Trish about the party and share the wealth, Jan said she didn’t feel well and had to go home.

Trish felt guilty for staying at the club while her friend was sick and had to leave. Following a minute behind Jan, Trish saw Jan laughing and getting into a cab with two of her new co-workers.

Don’t let this happen to you.

  • Don’t assume or expect. Your best friends may have ulterior motives that don’t include you. Do you think a close friend will always consider your welfare? Making that assumption could leave you feeling hurt and betrayed.
  • Know your rights. Do you have any claim on your friend’s contacts or business associates? Every relationship has boundaries. Knowing what they are prevents getting hurt.
  • When lied to, consider strategy. What’s the friendship worth to you? Should you confront or ignore? Was the lie told to hurt you or for convenience? Knowing the answers helps you decide on a course of action.


Marissa was told by her boss to check the company’s voicemail at least three times a day. Since there was no receptionist, Marissa fielded all calls leading to new business, whether live or via messages.

Her bubbly friendliness on the job was refreshing. So when Marissa turned in only 4 or 5 call sheets a week (15 would have made more sense), her boss overlooked it. “Any calls this morning?” he’d ask cheerily. “Not yet, Mr. Perfect.” “Any calls this afternoon?” “Nope, rock star.” “Any calls come in over the weekend?” “Not a one, hotshot.” The staff squirmed and glared. Mr. Perfect loved it all—until Marissa took a summer Friday off.

On his way out of the office, he checked the company’s voicemail. This is what he heard: “This mailbox is full and not accepting any new messages.” Mr. Perfect went back to his office. He left a voicemail on Marissa’s home telephone. “We are assuming you check your voicemail, Marissa. Please stop by the office Monday for your exit interview.” Marissa did pick up that message.

Don’t let this happen to you.

  • When it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Know when you are being sold a bill of goods. Don’t allow a quick, easy answer to sway your better judgment. Look into things thoroughly.
  • If everyone around you sees a different picture, yours is probably out of focus. There’s a chance that everyone’s wrong—but not a good chance.
  • Overfamiliarity spells trouble. Too much, too soon often indicates a hidden agenda.


We often lie to people we might never see again. Unless you count yourself, these can be victimless lies. We lie to make ourselves feel better—less guilty, richer, hipper—but lying chips away at our self-esteem and fosters a general distrust of others which increases our stress level.

Take a look at these 3 common victimless lies and our tips for esteem-building alternatives.

You stopped at a diner for a grilled cheese. Not a fan of American, you always request Swiss. Well, not always. The sandwich arrives; you instantly realized your oversight and scold the waitress: “I specifically asked for Swiss!” “Did you sir? I misunderstood. Let me replace that for you.” “Right away, Miss. I’m starving.”

You buy a cool, end-of-winter coat on sale at the Gap. You had no idea it looked exactly like a more expensive, Burberry coat. When your label-conscious neighbor commented on your new Burberry, you decide not to tell them you got it from the Gap.

Your fellow commuter is passing the time. “Boy, the new Spiderman movie looks amazing. Have you seen it yet?” Although you haven’t, you know who Spiderman is, and you’ve seen the trailer. So you reply, “Yeah. It was awesome.”

Don’t let this happen to you.

  • We all make mistakes. When you order the wrong thing at a restaurant, own up to it with humility. The waitress is likely to replace your order for free. Tip her generously and you will like yourself for it.
  • Celebrate your intuition. Maybe you didn’t know you’d purchased a knock-off, but you did recognize style, elegance, and class. Describe your experience in a letter to your favorite lifestyle magazine.
  • Knowing it all is just not possible. Maybe you haven’t seen the latest superhero movie but you have tried a new restaurant. Talk about what you know, and you’ll feel better about yourself.