Everyone lies. And that is the truth.
Why do people lie? It’s a difficult question to answer because there are so many reasons. Lying is an innate part of our psychology. In many ways, lying is one of the things that make us human. The ability to bend the truth, to think outside the box and challenge accepted facts, is what has gotten civilization this far.
People lie for various reasons. Some reasons are good, some are bad, and others have unexplained motives. If you had to make a list, the following would be some of the top reasons why people may lie to you.
1. To Protect Themselves
One of the major reasons why people lie is to protect themselves. People are less likely to volunteer the truth if they realize that doing so is going to harm their chances of achieving something they want.
For instance, if you put out an ad for a nanny, most of the responses that you get will contain only “good” information. Very few nannies that have a criminal history will own up to this during an interview. Instead, these nannies will either lie directly when asked or evade the hard questions with the hope that they will be hired. This is why background checks are so important.
2. To Escape Punishment
Are you cheating on me? 95-percent of the time, whenever a partner asks that question, the answer is going to be, “No.”
People who cheat on their partners are unlikely to own up when confronted. Instead, a cheater will tell a lie because he or she knows that it is the only way to escape the punishment or the repercussions of his or her act.
The only time cheaters will own up is when they are faced with evidence they can’t dispute, like an incriminating picture, video recording, or receipts that show they were somewhere other than where they claimed.
3. Out of Loyalty
Sometimes a lie may stem from a misguided sense of loyalty. For instance, an employee of yours may know that a fellow employee has been skimming from you. But, because of a feeling of loyalty towards the colleague, he or she may feign ignorance when asked—even though the person lying is not in on the theft. People lie to protect those they feel loyalty towards all the time.
4. Because They Have Been Paid Off
Liars are not only motivated by personal reasons. Their actions may also be fueled by greed. Sometimes, a person may lie to you because someone else has paid him or her to do this. It may be to blindside you, get you in trouble, or cover up a crime.
5. Out of Compulsion
Some people lie to you because they simply have a habit of lying. Such people will lie even when the truth is obvious. The key difference with these people is that chronic liars are not always motivated by spite. They don’t lie because they are trying to harm you or hide something from you. They lie because it is in their nature.
It is important that you watch out for these liars. Intentionally or not, their lies may lead you towards the wrong conclusions.
6. For Something Noble
Lies may be motivated by something noble. For example, it is well known that many unsuccessful marriages are ruined by affairs. But there are instances when, after someone discovers his or her partner is cheating, the guilty party becomes remorseful and takes steps towards repairing the damage he or she has caused.
In such situations, if the relationship becomes stronger after the indiscretion, the couple may want to protect their children by opting to lie about the affair. Instead of owning up to the fact that one party had a sexual tryst, they may simply decide to hide this from their children to preserve the idea of a happy family.
7. For Deceptive Gain
The average salesperson is skilled at lying. The job of a salesperson is to get you to buy a product by lauding its strong points while pointedly ignoring the drawbacks. However, salespeople are not the only ones with smooth tongues. Con artists are even better.
Never accept a deal at face value. Before you venture into any business, take the time to scrutinize the person you will be working with. Vetting your future partners ensures that you will not be walking into a swindle.
8. To Appear Smart
People sometimes lie just so they can appear smart. Maybe you ask a question that someone doesn’t know the answer to. These people worry that admitting this may make them appear dumb, so they lie.
Con men do this all the time. They make up stories about their pasts and business transactions. People believe these lies and end up getting scammed.
9. To Protect Children
When dogs die, they go to heaven. Santa Claus hates naughty children. The Tooth Fairy brought you a treasure. Those are common lies adults tell children. It is not because they wish to hide the truth from them, but because holding back the truth at that point in the kid’s development appears to be the right move.
10. To Gossip
Most people may not consider gossiping to be lying, but when you make up or embellish a story just because you’re trying to share something dramatic with your friends, you’re lying.
Gossiping is quite popular. It has become even more popular thanks to the web. Online tabloids are constantly looking for ways to “spin” pictures and random events into something scandalous because humans have a huge appetite for drama.
When Is a Lie Good or Bad?
Most religions agree that lying is morally wrong. However, there are situations where telling a lie may be considered good. In the end, the decision of whether or not a lie is okay to tell is one of perspective. For instance, if a nanny with a criminal past chooses to lie to you, the nanny may consider this the right thing to do.
The best way to deal with a lie is to consider it from your viewpoint. How does the lie affect you? If you are unaffected by the lie, then ignoring it might be okay. But if a lie puts you, your family, or your business at risk, you would want to know the truth.