Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lion Eyes

I recently heard a really interesting program about deception on Radiolab. In this program, they interviewed a man who’s an expert on lying. He has done studies on how we lie – the way our face twitches when we’re lying, the direction we look, that kind of thing. He’s made a career out of it.

At one point in the interview, he said that he’s made a lifelong commitment to never tell a lie. He defines lying as deceiving someone without informing them (therefore acting isn't lying because the audience has been informed, for example).

Using that guideline, he feels he can tell his wife that he loves her new dress even if doesn’t. He says that because she expects him to always tell her she looks great no matter what, she knows she is at least sometimes being deceived (she has been informed). I feel like that’s a loop hole but in this case, I’ll allow it.

I feel like I’m an honest person. I do my best to always tell the truth. But in some cases, it’s not the easiest thing. Like in social settings. In fact, the lying expert from Radiolab gave an example of how he was put to the test in this area. Someone invited him over for dinner and he did not want to go. This person had invited him over before and he had had an awful time. Not wanting to repeat this, he had to figure out how to get out of going again without lying. Finally he decided to stick to his honesty goal and he told the person that he was sorry, but he wasn’t interested in pursuing their friendship.


He said he felt like he could do anything after this - he felt empowered. I don’t know. I mean, I respect him and all. Actually, I’m in awe of him. But is that really the best idea? Maybe it is. I find it hard though. Who (besides this guy) really has the nerve to say, “I’m not busy that night, I just don’t want to hang out with you.”? That just seems mean. I mean, we're trying to have a society here.

This also applies in dating situations. Isn’t it easier when breaking things off just to say, “There’s just no chemistry” rather than, “You bore me to tears”? Or "We just don't have anything in common - we're different people" rather than, "Here's a list of the things I don't like about you"?

Plus, telling them all the things that annoy you really just makes it easier for them to tell you the things they don’t like about you. Who wants to hear that?

But would our lives be less complicated if we were more honest in these departments? Or would we all just have hurt feelings all the time? How honest are you? When do you think it’s ok to lie?

I'll end with a quote from the Office: "Daryl Philbin is the most complicated man that I have ever met. I mean, who says exactly what they're thinking? What kind of game is that?" - Kelly Kapoor


Leo said...

There is a difference between "lying" and intentionally witholding information that you are certain will hurt the other person's feelings. Example: "Does this dress make me look fat?"... The honest answer: "no, Your fat makes you look fat."... The witheld response (still in all honesty): "I prefer other dresses to that one." It's all in the way you phrase and the kindness in your tone that will assure the person that you care about them.

Linda said...

I agree with Leo. Part of being a civil society is sparing people's feelings and being kind. Sometimes if people are oblivious to the nth degree you have to be a little more blunt, but in general I think it is okay not to say exactly what you are thinking just to check it off on your "I was completely honest list." Three year olds are completely honest and we cringe at the things that come out of their mouths because they don't have any social filters yet. And there is no good answer to "Does this dress make me look fat?" Just quickly leave the room and never look back.

lizzie mc.- said...

It's a matter of priorities. 1. Love God. 2. Love others as self. Everything else is gravy. What's the desire and intent.

BTW I hate the road to he.. is paved w/ good intentions. God takes our intentions into consideration so should others and so should we.

Andy makes the point sharing confidences or secure information is a type of dishonesty.

Nice blog today. I'm a lover of the show Lie to me.

Katherine said...

A tricky one! I guess I feel like lies that hurt are a no-no, but lies that are small and help spare someone pain (without deluding them) are OK. How many parents tell their kids about Santa or the tooth fairy? Or how many of us fib a little about our friend/loved one's new, expensive haircut? We have to be careful that we don't cross the line, but there are times when using the radio guy's loopholes might be OK.

Ryan @ thesinglesward said...

Ok so in all honesty, we really like you Elizabeth.

As far as dating situations, there is no reason to lie. There also is no reason to tell all. Almost every guy we know, including us, would prefer girls to be more honest. If you truly are not interested anymore say so. You shouldnt say that you don't feel chemistry, you should just say that after getting to know them better, you are no longer interested.

There is no harm in saying that you are not interested. Guys already know the friend line and they know that it's very probable that you really mean for them to go away. However, girls leave the door open by using it.

When ending a relationship (not just taking a break), for whatever reason, we need to close the door. This is not saying it won't reopen at some point as friends or otherwise. Closing the door provides a sense of closure, something you don't get by saying that you want to remain friends. Let's be honest, we haven't stayed friends with most of the people we've dated, so why say it.

Part of not lying is telling the truth, even if it is not fully disclosing everything (such as that annoying thing she does with her teeth). If the other really wants details, do try to provide them in a considerate manner. If you're not comfortable with this, say so and move on, don't feel like you have to detail everything. If it is a friendly breakup, offer kind suggestions on ways the other can improve (only if it is something they can control). Their next gf/bf will appreciate it.

I feel like we need to be more honest and less politically correct all the time. If you don't want to go on a date, don't tell the person you are busy, that just instructs them to try again. Tell them you aren't interested in that. If you want to be friends, tell them you aren't interested in dating them but would love the opportunity to get to know them as a friend. Then suggest an activity involving some of your friends and theirs.

Hope this helps. We really do like you Elizabeth.

D said...

I had a religion teacher at BYU who would tell his wife if he didn't think an outfit looked good on her. His reasoning was she was beautiful to him regardless of the outfit but practically speaking there are some clothes that look better than others- why not be honest about it? Kind of like the whole if you have a big piece of lettuce stuck in your teeth- you'd want to be told about it, right?

When dealing with break ups, I don't think it's bad to be gentle while still being truthful.

Elizabeth Downie said...

I guess I admire his honesty, Danielle, but I don't think I'd like it if my husband was that honest.

Thanks, Singles ward guys! Interesting comment! It's hard to be totally honest when it comes to dating so I appreciate your tips.

Heather said...

Jim had said in the past if he doesn't like something I'm wearing, but he said it more like, "It's not my favorite thing. You look better in blue...." you know what I mean, he was nice about it and gave me a suggestion, it still hurt a little, just b/c I thought I was hot stuff in, but i (later)appreciated his honesty.

It's funny that you bring this up, b/c my favorite show is called "Lie to Me" I have been trying to get Mom and Dad to watch it for a while. You'd like it, I think.

P.s If you married one of the "Single's Ward" guys, you could have a blog called Family Ward. Just sayin'.lol

Mark said...

Don't ask me if your dress makes you look fat and I won't think that it's your rear end that makes you look fat.

Don't ask me if you're still as pretty as you were ten years ago and I won't wish I'd married your younger sister.

Don't ask me if I like your new haircut because I hate it. I hate change and it's going to take a while to get used to it.

Pretty much anything I answer to these kinds of questions will either be a lie or evasive.

Ask me instead if I love you and I'll say you're the prettiest, funniest, and sweetest girl I know,that I wouldn't want to be with anyone else, and that will be the truth.

Anonymous said...

There are times when absolutely you should not lie, i.e., "is this money yours?" "is he my father?" "is this your signature", "is this your gun?". But situational ethics is what keeps friendships, the peace, relationships, even jobs because the truth - a lot of times is best kept to yourself. Smiles.