Your spouse wants you to pick up the dry cleaning, but you're running late from work. If you stop to get it, you won't be able to work out. So you head to the gym, go home and say, "I forgot."
Couples tell each other little white lies like this all the time. They do it because they've learned that sometimes telling the truth casues a fight. “The fight isn’t about whether the dry cleaning was picked up, it’s about all the other times in the spouse’s life where someone else’s needs came before theirs,” said Dr. Peter Pearson
, co-author of “Tell Me No Lies.
While this type of lying is relatively benign, whenever a lie is told, it strikes at the glue that holds relationships together --- trust. According to the Raj Soin College of Business
at Wright State University
in Dayton, Ohio, trust is the expectation that another person won't hurt you when you're vulnerable. “Integrity and trust are the foundation of all human relationships,” said Gerald M. Czarnecki, president and chief executive officer of Junior Achievement (JA).
People who are trustworthy seem to be a vanishing breed in society, which increasingly embraces lying as a way to advance personal agendas. A shocking JA December 2007 poll of teens revealed that while 71 percent of teens feel fully prepared to make ethical decisions, 38 percent of that group believe “it is sometimes necessary to cheat, plagiarize, lie or even behave violently to succeed.”
Most of the world’s major religions teach that deception is wrong, but people do it anyway. Why? “People lie for three reasons,” said Stan Walters
, author of “The Truth About Lying: How To Spot A Lie and Protect Yourself From Deception
.” “They lie to hide something from you, to harm you in some way or to hype themselves.” LYING ABOUT MARITAL ISSUES
For married couples, if the lie is about an affair, buying into it can expose the spouse to sexually transmitted diseases. If the lie is about poor financial choices, buying into it can affect the spouse’s credit rating. Whatever the reason for the lie, because married people are “one flesh,” the unsuspecting spouse often experiences consequences.
When the truth comes out, it’s a kick in the head. “You trust your ability to judge character. When you find out someone has lied to you, you feel like the biggest idiot in the world. It just compounds the problem, because now you’re beating up on yourself on top of it,” said Dr. Pearson.
The sense of having been set up by the person you most trusted is devastating and can have a long-term effect on your ability to trust others and yourself. “We’re all tuned to be trusting, but, if I think no one would ever lie to me, I set myself up to not recognize a lie when it comes my way,” said Walters. “On the other hand, if I think someone’s going to lie to me, even if a person is telling me the truth, I perceive as it as a lie. Either way, we wind up only asking those questions that go with our preconceived notions which destroys our chances of making an accurate assessment of the situation.”
Is someone is lying to you? First, the bad news: there is no way to know for sure. Even the experts can’t always tell. “I’ve had couples in my office and I know one person is lying to their partner and I do my best to scrutinize for signals and I can’t pick them up. Some people are that good,” said Dr. Pearson.
Surprisingly, behaviors we often associate with lying, such as arm crossing, sweating and sweaty palms, increased heart rate, skyrocketing blood pressure, ‘ums’ and ‘ahs,’ fidgeting, crossing legs and laughing inappropriately may be more about feeling intimidated than telling the truth. The biggest myth is that you can catch a liar by watching their eyes. “Looking away or looking down are the least reliable indicators of lying,” said Walters. FOUR SIGNS OF A LIAR
Now for the good news: there are some clues to spotting a liar. Among them: 1. When it comes to lying, Pinocchio’s your man.
Dr. Alan Hirsch of The Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation
in Chicago, Illinois, has found that when a person lies, specific tissues in the nose usually engorge. This nasal engorgement, which Dr. Hirsch calls the “Pinocchio Sign,” causes cells to release histamine, which in turn causes the nose to itch. Nasal itching can be a neon sign that someone is laying a big one on you.