No one would deny that lying is a bad habit. Yet many people are clueless as to how big of a problem it is. Sadly, lying can become an unconscious and destructive habit. Let's talk about the different kinds of lies and see if you recognize them.
Types of Lies
Understanding the different types of lies can go a long way in recognizing the issues that the liar is going through - whether it be you or a friend.
1. White Lies
A white lie is often called the least serious of all lies. People tell white lies claiming to be tactful or polite. For example, it could be making up an excuse for not going to a party, or showing appreciation for an undesirable gift. But telling white lies after a while can cause conflict with others because over time they understand the insincerity. That is why white liars can lose their credibility.
Patterns of white lies made over time can create distance between you and others, and destroy your credibility.
Brandon admitted, "Sometimes I say I have plans to do something when I don't, just to get out of having to tell someone I don't want to go with them. It seems like the better option, than saying I don't like you." There are other ways Brandon could turn down somebody's offer than telling a white lie.
Shariah said, "I only lie when I tell people I am doing good when I am sad or depressed. I tell them that because I don't want people knowing about what I go through and how my personal life is." By telling this white lie she is showing disrespect for the person who asked a relationship-building question and is putting up a roadblock to a deeper relationship.
2. Broken Promises
Broken promises are a failure to keep one's spoken commitment or promise. Broken promises can be especially damaging when the person who made the promise had no intention whatsoever of keeping their word to begin with. Adam said, "I told a girl I know that I'd go with her to the game even though I knew I wouldn't be able to go. I wasn't trying to hurt her, but I didn't know what else to do."
What Adam doesn't understand is that lying to the girl and breaking the promise does double damage, causing hurt feelings that could have been avoided. By breaking his promise he did great damage to her hope. She no doubt was all excited about going to the game with him, only to have her hopes dashed. Broken promises can lead to broken lives.
3. The Lie of Fabrication
Fabrication is telling others something you don't know for sure is true. Fabrications are extremely hurtful because they lead to rumors that can damage someone else's reputation. Spreading rumors is not only a lie but is also stealing another's reputation. Paul wrote, "I admit that I love spreading rumors. It's all about telling lies about someone you don't like. It usually works."
4. The Bold-Faced Lie
A bold-faced lie is telling something that everyone knows is a lie. It's simple and sometimes cute for a little child to tell a bold-faced lie about not eating any cookies, even though there's chocolate all over his or her face.
As we get older, we try to be more clever with our cover-ups. Some people never grow up and deal with their bold-faced lying even though others know what they're saying is completely false. When people hear a bold-faced lie they are resentful that the liar would be so belittling of their time and intelligence.
Sara said, "I hate lying. Especially when I know everybody knows I'm lying. I feel so dumb." Sara isn't the only one who feels dumb. The people she lies to could also feel the same way.
5. The Lying in Exaggeration
Exaggeration is enhancing a truth by adding lies to it. The person who exaggerates usually mixes truths and untruths to make themselves look impressive to others. An exaggerator can weave truth and lies together causing confusion even to the liar. After awhile the exaggerator begins to believe his or her exaggeration.
Amber confessed she thinks exaggeration actually helped her. "I'm not good at really anything, so I lie about stupid things so that I sound like there is more to me." An exaggerator is a tragic person because he or she feels so little about themselves that they have to make up stories to look good to others.
6. Lies of Deception
A deceiver tries to create an impression that causes others to be misled, by not telling all the facts, or creating a false impression. Jon admitted he was a deceiver, "Sometimes I don't like being seen as smart, so I'll joke around about how smart I am just to try and get people to think that I'm not that smart. It works sometimes. It doesn't feel like lying, I guess I'm just pretending to be something I'm not." Causing deception is a powerful and hurtful tool. It can be very subtle yet deadly.
Plagiarism is both stealing and lying. It consists of copying someone else's work and calling it your own. Plagiarism is a very serious act. Some college and graduate students have even been kicked out of school because of it.
Scott asked a question and admitted his plagiarizing. "Is it lying to copy something from the internet and call it your own? I do this sometimes when working on a paper for school and I run out of time." Scott seems to be confused about his plagiarizing. Yes, Scott, it is lying. Just because it is easy to do does not make it right.
8. Compulsive Lying
Compulsive lying is often caused by low self-esteem and a need for attention; in fact, the compulsive liar finds it all but impossible to stop. A compulsive liar tells their mistruths even when telling the truth would be easier and better. Bree said, "This guy I grew up with tells lies like its no tomorrow. What I don't get is that I actually think he believes every word of the lie is true. I think it's ridiculous." It is more than ridiculous, it is a tragedy.
Have you ever told anyone of these lies? Do you ever wonder if you can get away with lying? The answer is not really. You may be able to lie for a while, but in the end it will come back to haunt you. What starts as a simple white lie over time can turn into a life-destroying habit. It's important to know there is freedom in living and telling the truth. It may be difficult at first, but as Jesus said, The truth shall set you free.
How to Tell When Someone Is Lying?
Knowing about all these different kinds of lies is great, but what good will it do if we don’t know we’re being lied to? Finding out that you’ve been deceived is a crushing feeling, most of the time… perhaps the most acceptable lie in the entire world is the one you were told so that you’d show up at your own surprise birthday party… if you like surprises, that’s when being deceived might not be the worst feeling. But most of the time, realizing you were lied to makes you feel violated, embarrassed, and sometimes angry. How can we catch liars in action?
- Inconsistent Stories
- Liars often struggle to keep their stories straight. Have there been contradictions in their explanations?
- Body Language
- Non-verbal cues can be telling. Look for signs like avoiding eye contact, fidgeting, or unusual gestures. These can be a sign that someone is uncomfortable or nervous, both associated with deceit.
- Changes in Vocal Pitch
- A noticeable change in someone's voice, such as sudden high-pitched tones or stammering, suggests anxiety, which could be linked to dishonesty.
- Overemphasis and Defensiveness
- Liars may overemphasize their statements or become defensive when questioned. Excessive details or a defensive tone can be red flags. Watch for defensive language, such as excessive use of "I swear" or "to be honest," as it could be a ploy to convince you of their sincerity.
- Inappropriate Smiling or Laughing
- A liar might smile or laugh at odd moments. It could mean they’re trying to diffuse tension or mask their discomfort.
- Avoidance of Direct Answers
- Liars often avoid giving direct answers to straightforward questions. If you ask a follow-up question, do they give you a vague answer? Deflect attention to something else? Change the subject entirely?
- Baseline Behavior
- This one might only be helpful if you know the person well and understand their usual behavior in everyday situations. If they seem to be acting differently than normally, that may indicate they are not being truthful.
- Changes in Blinking Patterns
- Increased blinking or a sudden lack of blinking can be associated with anxiety, which could be because they’re trying to deceive you.
It's important to note that these indicators are not foolproof, and context matters. People may exhibit these behaviors just because they’re confused, anxious, flustered, feeling sick, or in a hurry. Being aware of these signs, however, can alert you to when you should lean in and ask more questions—you’ll either build more trust with someone by noticing when something’s off and offering support, or you’ll learn more about whether someone’s unworthy of your trust.
Are you feeling like you may have a problem with lying and want to get control? Here are 8 practical steps on - How To Stop Lying.