Thursday, July 30, 2009

Can a Leopard Change His Spots?

When someone is less than truthful, can you trust that person again? Should you?

IMO one of the most important assets each of us has is our word. Either the truth or our honest opinion, when asked, even if the response is not quite what the asker wants to hear. But some feel that breaking their word, lying or intentionally misleading someone is acceptable or has a valid purpose. Even if they wouldn't want to be lied to in return.

White lies: No, those pants do not make you look fat. Yes, I like your haircut.
Supposedly these make the recipient feel better. They keep the giver from being put on the spot. I'd rather know that the pants made me look fat so I could put on a more flattering pair.

Lies of Omission: When asked a question, are you obligated to tell the whole truth and nothing but (outside a courtroom)? Does it depend upon who is asking?

Intentional Misleading: I'd like see you again. I'll call. I didn't agree to that. The speaker knows very well he/she had no intention of following up, but wants to get off the hook.

Lies on the phone: I'm still at school/the office. My meeting ran late, I'm stuck in traffic. It's 10:00 and I said I'd call. Everyone has a cell phone these days. You can be anywhere doing anything with anyone (as long as the other person is quiet) and lie. So your spouse won't know you're having lunch with the ex you told him/her you wouldn't see again. So your parents/boss don't know you're somewhere you're not supposed to be.
If the liar gets away with it, he probably thinks, why not continue? That way he can have his cake and eat it, too.

Lies to your face: I'm not having an affair. I'm not at Susie's. I didn't take money from your wallet. Often accompanied by righteous indignation, as in, "How dare you think such a thing!" Perhaps the liar thought he could correct the situation---stop the affair, put the money back--before you found out, so it's ok. What you don't know won't hurt you.

Lying to yourself: I don't drink much, it's not a problem. My credit card debt isn't that bad. I don't need a doctor/therapy. I'm not a bad parent. Perhaps the saddest lies and the hardest to resolve. If you can lie to yourself, chances are you can lie to the world and no one will know that you need help.

Using lies to take advantage/discredit someone: Your father gave this (family item) to me before he died. It's your word against mine. You didn't tell me that. The burden is on the innocent victim to right the wrong.

Liars want to make things easier for themselves. The fear of getting caught and concern about hurting others must be less than their need to be untruthful. Some may believe the lie protects the recipient from pain. IMO, even if the truth is hard to take, it's better to deal with than the loss of trust and sense of betrayal that accompany lies.

So can a leopard change his spots? If the liar is truly sorry for lying, is that enough to convince you it won't happen again? What/how much proof and/or time would you need to get over a good-sized lie? An article suggesting ways to let go of the pain of broken trust is at Inspired Fitness, here.

1 comment:

Morgan Mandel said...

I appreciate the kind lies, but when a person crosses me in any way, I find it hard to trust that person again. There's always that doubt.

Morgan Mandel