Life Support: How to tell a little white lie

Essential skills for the modern world


Stop feeling guilty


Morality is a swampy ground, so it is best not to get mired in it. While the Bible is fairly clear on the ethics of lying – "thou shalt not bear false witness" and all that – precious few of us are thumping the pulpit in agreement these days. From telling your best friend she doesn't look fat in her new dress, to pretending you didn't realise that the man you were shamelessly flirting with has a girlfriend, there are countless situations in which lying really is the only option. And if you're going to do it, you might as well do it properly.

Keep it simple

The more complicated your story is, the more likely it is you will get confused and trip yourself up. Inconsistencies in your tall tale will appear and betray you. Telling your spouse that you were delayed at work when you were actually in the pub is easy enough to pull off; convincing them that the Tube was derailed, a little more difficult. Also, try not to involve anybody else in the deception. While it might seem like a good idea to get someone to back you up, or provide you with an alibi, other people are usually a liability when it comes to lying, especially if they are less practised in the art than you are.

Pick your moment

There is a time and a place for lying. If you are being asked to swear on the Bible or sign a contract you can be fairly sure it is neither. Meanwhile, perfect opportunities for lying include: saying the babysitter has called in sick, when really you just fancy staying in to watch The X Factor rather than endure another family get-together; swearing that the expensive dress you're returning has not been worn, when it's spent a night on the tiles with you; and feigning illness to leave work early for your children's school play. But be warned: there is often a fine line between lying and more serious offences.

Body Language

If you believe Cicero – who argued that the face is a picture of the mind, and the eyes its interpreter – then in order to be a good liar you have to override all the physical signals that you are telling an untruth. While you are unlikely to sprout a Pinocchio-like schnozzle on telling a little fib, research has shown that liars touch their noses more than those who are honest, so avoid any suspect scratching. Similarly, if you find it difficult to look someone straight in the eye and lie to them, get over it. It is important to maintain a level gaze at all times.

Relax

If deception doesn't come naturally, don't worry. Practice makes perfect.

Rachel Shields

Suggested Topics
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
people
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
music
News
Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    The Jenrick Group: Project Engineer

    £33000 - £35000 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Project E...

    The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Technician

    £35200 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Engine...

    Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Operative

    £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing specialist merchant co...

    SThree: TRAINEE RECRUITMENT CONSULTANT - IT - LONDON

    £20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £50k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 bus...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'