SOYOUWANNA LIE PERSUASIVELY?
If there is one thing that we here at SoYouWanna.com know about, it is spotting liars. Two of our writers worked for the CIA from 1994 to 1997 and a third won a National Book Award for Nonfiction for her 1998 book The Art of Deception: How To Spot A Liar. A fourth writer, a part-time professor in nonverbal communication at Stanford University, recently received an Emeritus Award for outstanding undergraduate instruction.
By the way, everything in the above paragraph is a lie. Now, you may have caught us early on, because you know that our cleverly written articles usually start off with a bit of humor or irony. But the above paragraph serves more than an entertainment function; it is instructive because it utilizes some techniques that are essential to the art of persuasive lying. Learn these techniques and you will be able to deceive with the best of them.
Before we divulge any secrets, however, we must play Yoda to your young Jedi: please use the knowledge we impart to you for the purposes of good and not evil. Our techniques are not meant to be used when you are on the witness stand nor should they be used to steal from or hurt others. Rather, our methods should be applied defensively: for example, you know that someone is lying to you (e.g., a mechanic says that he's charging you a fair price), and lying back to him is the only way to set the record straight. That said: read on, and learn to lie like the dirty dog you are.
Avoid lying to people who know your "baseline behavior"
Many years of research have proven one thing: it's incredibly difficult to know if someone is lying unless you have prior exposure to his or her baseline behavior. What is a baseline? It's the back of the box on a tennis court. What is baseline behavior? It is how you act when you're not lying. You know, the way you normally act, the way you talk and behave when you're having a casual conversation in which no attempt at deception is taking place.
The greater the number of interactions that the target of the lie (we'll use a "he" in this example) has had with you, the more familiar he will be with your baseline behavior. Because he knows how you usually act, he'll press you on the veracity of your statements, and be more likely ultimately to figure out that you lied. This is why the old maxim: "a liar never looks you straight in the eye" is bull. If the person doesn't usually look people in the eye as part of his normal non-lying behavior, he very may well look you in the eye when he IS lying. (This would be a change from his baseline behavior.) Lots of other little clues that all of the fogies down at Shady Pines have provided (e.g., liars talk fast, their eyes dart around, or clear their throats a lot) are also pretty much useless for this reason; if the old folks really knew how to spot a liar, they wouldn't get ripped off in those crazy phone scams all the time. It doesn't matter what someone does when (s)he lies, it only matters if such behavior is different from how she or he normally acts.
It's easier to lie to people you don't care about
There is another important justification for having as little contact with the target as possible: it is easier to lie to people about whom you don't give a damn. To understand why, consider this: many studies have shown that it's relatively easy to lie to someone over the phone because the sense of personal connection is very small. You can't see them; they can't see you. As a result, you are less likely to feel guilty and, therefore, give visual clues that you may be deviating from your baseline behavior. If you were closer to the person physically, you would have a greater personal connection. Consequently, you would be more likely to "leak" (reveal in some way that you are engaging in deceptive behavior).
The same reasoning applies to being close to a person psychologically. Think about it. If you try to lie to your girlfriend or boyfriend, there are numerous psychological pressures (you'll think about what happens if you get caught, feel guilty about lying to someone you care about, etc.), and it will be more difficult to focus on mimicking your baseline behavior. Trust us; you'll probably leak all over the place (in all senses of the word). This phenomenon is often called "liar's remorse," and it's usually what people are talking about when they say a liar "wanted to get caught."
So how does knowing this aid your ability to lie well? The answer is this: if you're going to lie, try to lie to someone who doesn't know you very well. They will be less familiar with your baseline behavior, and you will be less like to care about them. In the event that you need to lie to a close friend, family member, or other loved one, try this trick: lie to someone who doesn't know you as well, and have them pass the message along. If that's not possible, you must truly master everything we tell you from here on in.