Caught in a Lie? Here’s EXACTLY What to Say…
People lie, on average, one to two times per day. While the percentage of lies told by a person, the conditions under which we lie, and the degree to what extent people lie all vary, statistics strongly suggest that almost everyone lies.
Whilst there can be good intentions, perhaps we’re trying to save a person’s feeling or trying to avoid painful situations we’re risking getting caught and more often than not the truth will eventually surface.
Many people, however, don’t see it that way. Most of us believe that our lies actually work — mainly because it takes a rare person to confront us.
But if you read between the lines there is very often evidence to suggest doubt, even outright disbelief, on the faces of the people we lie to.
So what happens when you get caught? No matter what situation you’ve found yourself in, to recover the damage this might have on your relationships, we suggest you follow the steps below:
The Power of Sincere Apology
I am very sorry. I hope you can forgive me.
It might be embarrassing, but it is the right thing to do. We all need to face the music and swallow our pride and apologize when we disappoint someone.
Whatever your reason was for lying, or how big or small your lie was, it doesn’t matter. Apologizing will show the other person that you acknowledge what you did.
An apology might be difficult depending on how big and how old the lie is. In this situation, the damage can be more significant than you think. It is not easy for the other person to accept and get over an old lie.
It makes them feel weak and stupid that they never understood they had been lied to all this time. Do not try to minimize the damage and own up to it.
Explain Why You Lied
I thought I had no other option.
Choose your words wisely and don’t add more lies while trying to fix another one. Make sure your reasons are genuine, and you are not trying to create lame excuses.
You must be open and accept that you might feel embarrassed in this situation. Most of the time when we lie, it is because we are not able to assess the situation wisely, and we misjudge the facts.
In a state of panic, we might feel like there is no other option than lying. Next time when you find yourself in a similar situation, try to approach it calmly and see from the other person’s point of view.
We are all humans, after all, and we are not perfect. We can make mistakes sometimes, and these mistakes can cause damage to others and ourselves as well.
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Acknowledge You Betrayed Someone’s Trust
I know that I disappointed you, and it will not be easy to fix it, but I hope you can give me another chance.
Your tone and attitude will make a big difference in fixing this problem. Do you care about this person? How important is it that you fix the problem? What are the consequences of this loss?
Our apology can only go so far if our actions don’t support our words. Asking for another chance will be one more step forward for this person to see your sincerity and remorse.
Show Your Willingness to Fix the Damage
I am willing to do whatever it takes to fix it.
This is especially important if your lie was a big and an old one. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
What would you feel if you found out you had been lied to for a very long time? It is not a nice feeling, is it? If you are sincere about fixing this situation you might need to work hard and long.
When you say it, you should mean it and know that this might be the only opportunity you will have. Unless it was a big lie that caused a lot of damage, most people would be willing to give you another chance.
But use this opportunity wisely and don’t blow it again.
Explain How You Will Handle the Situation From Now on
I would like to talk to you about what to do next, and your opinion is important to me.
Having a clear idea of how to fix the situation and knowing what needs to be done is a sign of willingness.
But you have to also be open to hearing the other person’s opinion and what they think needs to be done to solve the issue.
Make them feel like their thoughts and feelings are important to you and you value them and you want to hear them.
You believe that together you can reach a desirable outcome. But also let them know that you have been thinking about ways to fix this situation because you are truly sorry.
Having an idea is better than just sitting there and asking them “what do you want me to do”? Let them know that you have been thinking about a solution.
Explain How Much You Value Your Relationship With This Person
Betraying your trust was never my intention. You mean a lot to me and I don’t want to lose you.
When someone lies to us, our immediate feeling is that they don’t care enough about us to tell us the truth. Sometimes that’s the case but sometimes it isn’t.
If this person is important to you, then you need to do your best to let them know that they are. Understand the fact that gaining back their trust is most probably going to take some time.
Hopefully not too long. But you will need to be patient and make sure that you don’t get caught in another lie. You might get a second chance the first time, but most probably you will not have a third chance with this person.
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Don’t Try to Deny and Keep Up the Lie
Yes, I lied, and I feel terrible for doing this.
This is similar to recognizing the fact that you lied. Do whatever you can but don’t extend the lie any longer. You will only be making the situation worse by insulting someone and lowering your worth before their eyes.
Nobody wants to feel naive. Besides, you will become less and less credible with each word. It will greatly lower your chances of getting a second chance.
It might be hard to swallow your pride and admit it at the beginning but in the long run, you will feel less pain and you will be glad that you got it out of your chest when you did.
If you keep extending your lie, you will have to add detail after detail to make it sound credible and it will become impossible to keep track of all details.
UCLA professor and executive coach John Ullmen, PhD, explains the fundamentals of mindfulness and provides step-by-step methods that anyone can use. Every technique is confirmed by research and validated in practice to give you results for dealing with stress, anxiety, fear, worry, and self-doubt, and for increasing confidence, peak performance, and connection with others.
For a more in-depth self-evaluation, genuinely sit down and think about why you lied to this person. What was the motive behind it? When you are ready to face them, if it makes it easier for you, you can meet in a public place like a coffee shop or a restaurant. Maintain eye contact when you talk to them and this time tell them the whole truth as it is.
At Never the Right Word, our aim is to give you practical examples of how to handle life’s difficult conversations. If you have an awkward situation that you’d like example templates for, request a topic here.
Lastly, if you found this content helpful or want to share your own examples, let us know in the comments. We’d also be delighted if you shared this article and joined us on social media too!
Never the Right Word
Hi there! I’m Amy, and I’m the person behind Never the Right Word. I’m a designer-by-day who’s fascinated by human psychology; you’ll find me learning about what makes others tick through all types of media and good old-fashioned conversation. Learn more about me here.
In 2019 Never the Right Word was born to fill the gap of ‘how-to’ websites with copy and paste examples showing you EXACTLY what you need to say to steer difficult conversations into positive outcomes.
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