Honesty is the best policy. So why don’t more people practice it?
Lots of reasons: being too embarrassed to tell the truth, not wanting to be inconvenienced or, yeah, hoping to get away with something.
Some lies are outright deceptions, such as saying “I’ll pay you back” when your pal lends you $20 at Dave & Buster’s. You know that since he’s had several beers he will forget he handed over that double sawbuck. Then you probably justify the falsehood by telling yourself, “After all, I drove so he could have a few beers with the nachos. So with the price of gas I think it worked out fairly.”
You liar, you.
Other lies are more like wishful thinking, such as replying, “Oh, it didn’t cost that much” when a spouse notices your new outfit. Even though the two of you have agreed on a budget to meet financial goals, you lied to your partner about the frivolous expense.
Likely you lied to yourself, too: “Looking good is important at my job, so this is like an investment in my future.” Keep telling yourself that, you fibber. You know you have plenty of nice clothing already.
Here are some lies that most of us are guilty of telling. Any of them sound familiar?
1. I’ll do it later
Just about everyone is guilty of putting off things until “later,” which could mean sometime between today and never. And if we’re lucky, we “forget” something needed to be done and someone else might do it. (Shame on us.)
Pro tip: If you really are the forgetful type, set a reminder on your phone, computer or maybe even an old-school desk calendar. Hold yourself accountable!
2. Let me know if I can help
Someone you know just got laid off, or was hit by a huge and unexpected expense, or is experiencing long COVID. You tell them how sorry you are to hear that, and end the conversation with, “Hang in there! And let me know if I can do anything to help.”
Trouble is, lots of people are too embarrassed to ask for that help. That’s why you need to offer few concrete suggestions: helping craft a killer resume, showing how to track spending/build a budget (Money Talks News’ budgeting articles are a great place to start), mowing the lawn or walking the dog.
And if you really don’t want to help? Don’t lie. Just end the conversation with something like, “I hope your situation improves soon.”
3. I’m fine
When asked how we’re doing, most of us automatically say, “I’m fine, thanks” — even if we’re stressed or facing some kind of personal crisis. This lie can be useful if you don’t want to spill all the tea to a casual acquaintance. (Especially if they’re prone to gossip.)
However, you should think twice about saying “I’m fine!” to people who truly care about you. They’d likely be glad to lend a sympathetic ear.
4. Next time it’s my treat
Ever put up a half-hearted fight over the restaurant check, secretly hoping the other person agrees to pay? And then said, “Next time it’s on me,” even if you can’t afford it?
Pro tip: There are other, cheaper ways to get together with friends. Suggest one.
That is, assuming you even want to, since “I’ll get the next one” is a fib that often goes hand in hand with …
5. We need to do this again sometime
You run into a classmate, or someone you worked with a decade ago, and agree to join them for coffee. Half an hour in, you’re looking for the exits. Face it: Sometimes old acquaintances should be forgot.
“We need to do this again sometime” is automatic. But don’t say it unless you mean it, because some people will pull up their calendars on the spot. Instead, try “Well, thanks for the coffee, but I’m afraid I have to run.” And then run.
6. I’ll be there soon
Maybe you’re only five minutes into the half-hour drive when you text this update. Or maybe you’re still getting dressed.
It’s too embarrassing to admit that you lost track of time, especially when you can just blame “traffic” for your tardiness.
Here’s what also works: “Running a little late, but I’m on the way.”
7. I love it!
Because you’ve always wanted a bottle stopper shaped like a rubber chicken, right? Or a too-big jersey advertising your partner’s favorite sports team?
Sometimes a poorly chosen gift is due to the giver not putting much time or thought into the purchase. Or it could be that we haven’t clearly expressed our interests and desires. But instead of lying, do the polite thing: Smile and say “Thanks!” You can always donate it — or regift it — later on.
8. You look great!
Sometimes they don’t. For example, your chemo-ravaged friend has a pretty good idea of how they look. Why not go with a heartfelt, “I’m so glad to see you” and let the conversation flow from there.
“You look great!” is also heard in store dressing rooms. But a true friend won’t let someone become a fashion disaster. Instead, find a gentle way to encourage them to keep looking. “That one doesn’t flatter your figure/coloring. Let’s bring some more outfits in here.”
9. I’ll call you
A friend sets you up on a blind date that went horribly. Yet you don’t want to be rude so you say, “Give me your number. I’ll call you.”
Then it’s Ghost City, Population: You. And that’s really rude.
Sure, it’s hard to say, “I don’t want to see you again.” Do it anyway, in a gentle fashion: “You seem like a nice person, but I don’t feel any spark.”