In many instances, we lie because it is expected. People prefer the lie to honesty. In fact, in our culture, honesty is difficult to respect.

My family lives in a perpetual cycle of lies. Their questions are phrased to direct me toward the intended response. “It’s okay if …, right?”

The decision was made before the question was asked. They wanted validation. Nor do I hold my family to blame. They reflect the workplace, church and school.

Nor is my experience unique. I learned when I was supervising that I had to sit employees down and explain that when I asked, “Would you mind?” I was being civil. In fact, I wasn’t suggesting, I was handing them an assignment. This was a courtesy my employers never extended to me, and it took me years to realize the suggestion that I could refuse by asking if I would, or if I minded was a lie.

We also lie from good intention. There are those who make promises who never intend to keep them. But there are those (and I am one) who make promises believing, at the time, we can. They err when they assume we prioritize their request higher than they do. We may do it, but not on their schedule. Or we may intend to do it, but shit happens and their request moves down on our list of priorities. Our promise becomes a lie after the fact .To pester people with the reminder, “you promised,” alters the dynamic.

Lying is wrong, and destructive but it also seems to be built into our genes. Carol and I have fostered animals for rescue more than twenty years and have watched them first hand. We’ve witnessed deception in both dogs and cats on many occasions. In fact, deception seems to be an evolutionary survival tool to divert and distract predators (think of chameleons).

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Living metaphor. Follow me @stephens_pt.

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