The Etiquette of Lying--I have a question

michaelalreadytakenJuly 19, 2007

Sometime ago an acquaintance of mine asked me to lie for them.

Specifically, they asked me to help engineer a believable lie for delivery to a third party.

The situation arose when this ex (gasp) acquaintance of mine asked for help. As the dialog progressed it became clear that they didn't actually want help in the conventional sense but simply wanted to plumb the depths of my professional knowledge to serve their own interests in their own way regardless of whether or not I found it insulting or demeaning to even be asked to do such a thing.

Nevertheless, they were in deep trouble, obviously confused and grasping, so I chose to simply decline to assist them without bothering to heap my indignation upon their truly troubled situation.

As you might expect, this individual--this "person" no longer speaks to me. (triple lutz gasp)

Complicating matters, (double triple lutz gasp) I actually extended myself to this person--some time later--and "apologized" for not being "supportive." Now then, obviously I owed them no apology for refusing to be used but I somehow thought it'd be a nice gesture that took into account that their circumstances weren't optimal at the time. (idiot me). My reward was a curt, snotty reply.

I'm embarrassed to ask this at the ripe young age of 50 but I suppose my question is:

To the extent that people like this are--unfortunately--a fact of life--how does one deal with them diplomatically?

Other than "no, I can't do that" is there any way around this type of bs?


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dublinbay z6 (KS)

Stay as far away as you can from people playing mind-games and indulging in the fine art of leeching.

You'll retain your sanity (and self-respect) much longer.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 1:54PM
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No. Don't lower your standards. Don't feel guilty either.
You did the right thing.



    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 3:01PM
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How about, "No. I am just not comfortable doing that. Sorry."

My almost daughter-in-law did that with a nephew recently, and I am proud of her.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 9:02PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

They are what they are, and they have gotten it from their parents. They will never understand why you will not lie for them. My high school is a bad analogy, but some kids cheat, and some don't. The cheaters make it a big game, and they find those who are like them. The other students avoid them.

These people do not understand the word "integrity", and had you allowed yourself to be used, they would have asked again and again.

You did what was right, and possibly your only problem is doing what I often do, and that is trying to explain my answer. A smile with , "sorry, no" is all that is needed.

Be proud.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 9:58PM
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Just kindly say, "I can't do it, sorry". It takes a lot of energy and memory to lie. You have to always remember the lie, so you can repeat it again and again. You also have to have more lies to cover up the first lie. It just never ends. So don't start it.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 10:13PM
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Thank you all so much!

I just have these moments where I wonder if I've just missed "something," if that makes any sense.

It's really not the same thing but when I was in school and in college, I always seemed to attract these types that wanted to be "friends." Of course, it took me practically to the end of college to catch on--no, I won't sit by you and give you the answers--that kind of nonsense. That has happened to me more times in my life than I can possibly remember. I was soooo introverted, so geekly that I'd always assume it was "me" when they suddenly didn't want to be friends anymore.

Much has changed since then but I still tend to have a very strong reaction to stuff like this. It gives me the creeps.


    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 12:23AM
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Michael, I'm convinced that people in general stink any more. Everyone seems to care only for themselves... this is a good example. They didn't take into account that you'd also have to live with this lie and if it was something that went to court, would commit perjury.

I say better off without them. They weren't true friends to begin with if they couldn't understand you couldn't do it.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 7:35AM
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MAT - good for you! I have had to let friends go because they wanted me (or DH) to engage in things that were ethically wrong, at least for me - latest example is a woman who I had known for about a year. She got arrested for DUI and wanted my dh (a deputy) to help her out, get her out of jail or reduce the charge or whatever. He refused, and I don't blame him at all - the woman was drinking and driving with her 10 year-old daughter in the car, and the arresting officer siad she was totally gone - BA of 2 something... so anyway, stick to your guns. Friends like that you don't need.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 8:30AM
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carla17(Z7 NC)

I agree with all of the above. It's obvious to me they are only thinking of themselves, not your moral ethics!


    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 8:54AM
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barb_in_dc(z7 DC)


I believe we all had a discussion of "toxic" people some time ago. You might want to think of this person in this context. You just have to avoid them at all costs, because they will suck into their muck and not give a d**m about the consequences to you.

Why should you spend another minute of your life worrying about those with no integrity?


    Bookmark   July 22, 2007 at 5:35PM
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MAT, I for one understand your second-guessing yourself. I think we all do at one time or another. I have a friend that I was like a sister with for several years (or so I thought). In retrospect now that I can see clearly, I see that it was mostly one-sided on my part, and that she was clearly using me. Most of the effort came from my end of the friendship. It took me the better part of a year to realize that I was better off without her, and I grieved that friendship's end just like it was a death. Truth be known, if she came to me now with a sincere apology and the desire to be friends again, I'd forgive her and start all over. I think you did the right thing, but that doesn't mean it is easy.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2007 at 7:31PM
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I'm not a diplomat I always get in trouble when I go do the UN thing.......... pack of...........diplomats! Yuck! I did however pass one of these people on the street a week ago and we nodded 1st time in 5 years. She asked me to co sign a loan and I was a bout to side step it but hit the iceberg head on. I knew she was in a 12 step program for debting and whe she said why would'nt I co sign this loan I told her my train of thought could only infurriate her. Go ahead try me "well I know your a recovering alcoholic and drug addict and If you asked me to score some heroin for you and pick up a six pack on the way to your house I would aslo have to refuse! So I can't be part of your debting! This person got me my current job and garden spot heavy load! This person owes the world and was divorced when she dragged her husband into her chaotic finances! A polite nod is as far as I want to go!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 12:15AM
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No matter how awkward you feel now, you would have felt so much worse to have helped in the lie and a hundred times worse if it was found out, especially if someone had come to harm because of it. I lost friends this way too and it always feels terrible.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 1:48PM
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I'm 62 and it has taken me a lifetime to learn that some people are users and some are givers, some neither give nor take.

My latest policy is be honest, grateful for favors, giving when there is true need and above all do not play politics. There are always those who just love to pass on gossip, or scheme to gain what they want from other people. RUN from those people. They will never be friends.

and good luck

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 1:47PM
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meredith_e Z7b, Piedmont of NC, 1000' elevation

Hey, MAT :)

This is #23 on the list of why I warn people that I'm goofy and odd and geeky...

I say "I'm nerdy that way, sorry... No" and smile :)

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 5:34PM
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decobug(z6a Idaho SW)

Users don't care about you, they care about themselves. Here you are thinking they are thinking about you, and all this time they have already written you off as a possible person that is useful to them...

I try not to be polite to users... that way I don't have to worry about them attempting to use me again in the future...

"Wow, how did you end up in that type of position?" usually works...

    Bookmark   August 26, 2007 at 8:45AM
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