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
News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas
film
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
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

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Content Manager

    £26000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Content Manager is re...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior .Net Application Developer

    £40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

    £14000 - £17500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The successful applicant will b...

    Recruitment Genius: Continuous Improvement Manager

    £41500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee