Are there different types of lying? For example, concrete lying is where I tell you that the sky is ‘red’ when it appears ‘blue’. The information I provided is incorrect.
Contextual lying is to provide information that is correct in only certain circumstances. For example, the sky is cloudy but I tell you that the sky is ‘blue’. What I don’t tell you is that I mean at 35,000 ft. elevation. I am telling the truth but not confirming the context.
The next term is delusional lying which is where I convince myself something is true but it is not. For example, if I sincerely believe that someone is alive when in fact this person has passed on. In this case, the shock of loss may be so significant that I may not seem able to face the fact of the loss.
Intentional lying is a form of lying which consists of a conscious effort to deceive others. Perhaps it is part of my job to mislead others using various methods or maybe I don’t want people to know about my past.
Recognizing that one may not know one is lying is the first step. Unless we acknowledge that we are not certain about the truthfulness of someone keeps one humble, open to the information around, and helps us suspend judgment.
Is someone’s verbal communication in conflict with his or her non-verbal communication? If someone tells me she is relaxed, but her muscles seem tight, her face expressionless, and her movements are rigid or repetitive, I can mention “You seem stressed…are you sure you are relaxed?”
Observe patterns of behavior over time. Oftentimes, people who tend to lie show inconsistencies over time. We probably have all encountered the bubbly, vibrant, outgoing individual who seems to be friendly all the time but then through time we find he or she is in fact a very angry person who feels the ‘world owes them’. In this case, continued anger and resentment has been suppressed. To keep things in check such a person needs to keep up external niceties. We find out later that this person is not as friendly as we hoped and we may decide to reduce contact.
Recognizing someone who has difficulty being honest with himself or herself is also helpful. Do we hear conflicting messages from this person? Even after attempting to clarify their messages we are still confused when around them? Back off a little and review your encounters with this person. You may find that the person is so out of touch and that it is best to leave them alone.
Questions I need to ask myself are if someone is found lying, how important is the lie? Does it affect my relationship with that person? If I am dating someone with whom I think I have an exclusive relationship but find out she is ‘seeing’ two other people too, is that acceptable? If my expectation was an exclusive relationship, this expectation will not be met with this individual. If someone tells me that he does not tell his mother that he is in training to be a bartender and he knows his mother would be offended, do I cut off a friendship with him because the lie he provides his mother?
Judging others should be done carefully and tentatively. Some traditions state that we should not judge others but when we judge others what we are doing is evaluating our perception of them. It is important for us to know what we think of others so we can decide how to relate with them and build and maintain trust.