The Luv Doc: Blowing Smoke

Telling the truth is easy. Lying is a lot more work.

The Luv Doc: Blowing Smoke

Dear Luv Doc,

I am beginning to realize that a co-worker and a woman I consider to be a good friend is a compulsive liar. I relocated to Austin in March to take a job with a large software company. One of the first people to befriend me was a gregarious woman who I always seemed to run into in the break room. At first, I thought she was just one of those big storytellers who like to embellish the truth, but after knowing her for more than six months, I now realize she lies about everything – even small, inconsequential things that she has no reason to lie about. When I first met her, she said she was the only openly gay person in the office (not true) and I think that made me give her more credit than she was due. Also, she seemed like a good person to know because she seemed to know everyone in Austin. She would always tell me about her rich Mexican (from Mexico City) girlfriend, how they regularly travel to Europe and South America, how her girlfriend owns a huge house in Westlake and drives a Range Rover, but curiously, though she considers me to be her best friend in the office, I have never met this girlfriend nor have I been invited to her house. Most recently, she missed a week of work "attending her grandmother's funeral" but when I asked her for details about the funeral or where I could send flowers she wouldn't provide any and said it was a "closed service." Yesterday her manager called me into his office and asked me to corroborate her funeral story because he was suspicious about it as well. I told him I knew as much as he did, but now I am worried that being friends with this woman could damage my reputation in the office and adversely affect my job. Should I confront her about her lying? I would prefer to slowly distance myself from her, but I am not sure how to do that. I am also a little afraid of how she might react.

– Friend of the Outliar


You're not by any chance in the marketing department, are you? I just kind of feel like that's where all the truly talented liars end up – either marketing or sales. No dis to either of these noble professions, by the way. Somebody has to bring home the bacon. I just find that people who can spin a really good yarn tend to end up in those fields, although I have met plenty of blue-collar types who were equally full of shit. Anyone who has ever flipped burgers, shoveled asphalt, changed oil, or painted houses can tell you about some dude named Cletus or Donny who was always blowing smoke up everyone's ass. By the way, while the preceding is an actual figure of speech, it is also very likely a category on Pornhub, so if you're from some cosmopolitan ZIP code that is untainted by such crass idioms, I suggest you trust my hard-earned experience instead of Googling the term. Trust me. Nothing good will come of it.

Speaking of Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page's plucky little startup has made lying particularly problematic for present-day prevaricators. Having the collective knowledge of all humanity conveniently tucked in one's trouser pocket has taken fact-checking to a ludicrous extreme. I mean, who really cares whether or not Shaquille O'Neal wears size 24 shoes? Not me. Obviously. It's been said that the devil is in the details, which is why liars tend to pepper an unnecessarily generous amount into their stories. For instance, if I was trying to convince you that Shaquille O'Neal has big feet, I might cough up some unnecessary, arbitrary figure to help prove my point. Hearing said figure, you might think, "Hmmm ... this Luv Doc fellow just said a number, so he must know what he's talking about." And there you would be wrong. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am terrible with numbers, but a respectable fabulist, if that's even a thing. Besides, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out Shaquille O'Neal has big fucking feet.

Anyway, the point is, the devil really is in the details. If you really want to make a liar squirm, you have to bleed them for as many details as possible. While Joseph Goebbels may have been right when he said, "The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed," it's conversely true that the more details the liar has to provide, the higher the likelihood that one or more of those details will be absolutely preposterous.

So, next time your co-worker starts telling a tall tale, or even a small tale ... don't call her on it, get completely on board with it. Enthusiastically jump in with both feet and start peppering her with questions she is completely unprepared to answer. Literally question everything – not in a "gotcha" way, but in a genuine, "tell me more" way. I think you will find that she will spend increasingly less time with you and you won't have to have that awkward confrontation that might flip her psycho switch. Telling the truth is easy. Lying is a lot more work.

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