Wright Foundation | April 28, 2014

Identifying, Understanding Why People Lie

Why Do People Lie?

I was talking to our marketing consultant and she asked me a really important question,” why do people lie?” Well, I could tell you anytime I see myself bull***tting I know it’s because I feel insecure and I haven’t accepted myself and I’m trying to sell myself. If you think about it, this is really a big issue. Lying is a major issue and we need to understand why people lie in order to minimize it.

There are significant stats on lying. One study says 100% of dating couples lie; 50% of high school student say they cheated on tests. It’s becoming, I suspect, a bigger problem today than it was in my parents’ time. Appearances have always been important, but I think we live so vulnerably and so out of touch with ourselves. Why do people lie when making excuses?


Identifying Why People Lie

When I say I’m late because of traffic, that’s a lie. I didn’t plan soon enough. I had the best experience of this over 20 years ago. I was late for a client session. I said, I’m really sorry, something… And he said, if I were president would you be late? If you say you can’t do it, and someone offers you a million dollars, could you do it? It’s a lie that you can’t do it. It’s just not that important to you. He wasn’t important enough to me to be there on time.

I’ve been working on cutting excuses and being authentic. I was actually pretty indelicate. I was up at my cousin’s funeral celebration service. I had a cousin die, and it was premature, and I felt like a third wheel and out of place. After the service they had a fun run in his honor because he was a triathlete. I was talking to them, I had told them earlier that I wanted them to know I was with them. We haven’t been that close. He asked me, I said I would be taking off. They said you have to go? I said, no, I don’t have to go, but I’m going. It was a jerky thing to do. I just felt like oh man, that was pretty harsh, I wish I’d lied. I think what we need is a sense of humor and to know we’re all liars, and that we’re working towards being more genuine and authentic, because we’re not going to have very loving relationships if we aren’t.

Do We Know Why People Lie So Much?

why people lieYou know I really hate why people lie. Don’t you hate bull***t artists too? What is it that really bugs us about liars? They’re always playing an angle and trying to get something. I recently ran into one and I was trying to think about what it was that I hated about it, and you know what I hated, I hated myself. I didn’t just straight out say, who the fuck are you kidding.

The thing I hate about liars is that I don’t always call them on it, and I tolerate them. How often are we bull***tting when we talk to a liar and were sitting there thinking that they’re bull***tting and we’re bull***tting at the very same time.

I was talking to my staff and I was really going to our mission and how important it is to empower individuals and how I think that critical thinking is something that’s dead in the United States. I’m was talking about the political process and how I don’t see a lot of honesty and authenticity in it. Our mission is to help people have the courage to stand out and say what’s true even in the face of potential rejection. I’m not proud of a lot of our students in that.

We had a staff member who sat there kind of silently the whole time. I thought, oh man, she’s really looking down on me. I felt really vulnerable. I was talking about things that matter deeply to me. I was tearful a few times as I talked about it. She just looked stock still. I’m going man, I’m dead. I went into her office after, and asked, how did you feel about what I was saying. And she said, I was really embarrassed because I didn’t understand half of your references. It was like I could have kissed her because I felt really vulnerable but look how vulnerable she was.

She said, I just thought I wasn’t smart enough. I think in my own insecurity I look to sound smart and to say stuff. That she was so genuine and authentic to tell me that with the vulnerability – she’s a new employee, and to feel that vulnerability was such a wonderful gift. The contrast of her decency, personal responsibility with me and willingness to talk about her emotions was a thing of absolute and total beauty; I was humbled. I had been in tears, I was talking about what matters to me, but at the same time there’s probably a level that I was being unnecessarily abstract. What I want to do is to celebrate her and the power of what she said. I consider her a beacon of authenticity and I was just inspired.

Wright Living is a division of the Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential, a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.