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Why are we so offended when someone lies to us?

If it is true that all people lie, then we have all had the experience of lying to someone and being lied to by someone. Sometimes lying could be necessary for the sake of maintaining safety or civility. Yet if we are comfortable in lying then why are we so offended when someone lies to us?

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    Sep 20 2013: I think they get offended when someone lies to them because as you said we have all at one time got involved in the act of lying to people, so i think when we are lying we know the weight of the lie, the consequence of the lie(not necessarily though) the negativity of being lied, So when all this happens to us we feel it so bad that we feel deeply offended. Another way of why i think people get offended is a scenario where when a person has lied to us to in order to hide a certain secret or from telling the truth, we are curious species ,that love information so much that it overcomes our control of emotions , hence when being refused from a secret or truth and given a lie it offends us deeply. Another way why people will be offended is thinking how a friend of theirs could lie to them(case of relationships and family)
  • W T

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    Sep 27 2013: I think it depends on who does the lying to us.

    A government official lies......typical.....I take no offense.
    My coworker lies to me........oh, I see, now I know who you are.....I'll have to watch my back.
    A family member lies to me.......I'm hurt. Not offended.........hurt and saddened, because trust is broken.
    And you want to be able to trust your family members.
  • Sep 27 2013: I don't know the correct reason. But I think we fell offended because our emotional banks gets debited!!
    “I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”
    A Quote By Friedrich Nietzsche‎
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    Sep 27 2013: Mark Twain once said there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. This phrase describes the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments. It is also sometimes colloquially used to doubt statistics used to prove an opponent's point.

    Twain was speaking to British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

    I expect politicians to lie ... the lies to be to their benefit and to validate their point. Thus I am not offended but am disappointed that they conduct MY business in such a manner and in doing so insult MY intelligence.

    I am not offended when someone "skirts the truth" for my benefit

    I would be offended if someone told a lie that had negative impact on me and / or my family and did it for malicious or vindictive reasons.

    I have penned incorrect entries on TED in responses ... I did not intend to do wrong but either through misunderstanding or being lazy and not doing the research made a bad error. Both friends and not so friendly let me know some with kindness and some not so kind. Either way it means that I must eat a little crow ... and own up to the rebuke.

    I also add this: It is often, for me, not so much as what has been said as the who that said it. There are those who can call me names and cuss me out and I laugh ... there are others that sincerely wish me a good morning and I look for a hidden meaning because I do not like them.

    I add this because we must sometimes look at ourselves in seeking the answer of others. So lets all TRY to play fair. Just because I do not like the other person does not mean I should not be civil or give the best answer I am capable of. It does mean I do not have to join them at the bar or invite them to my home ... that would be a damn lie.

    I wish you well (no lie). Bob.
    • W T

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      Sep 27 2013: I knew that I would love your answer as soon as I saw that you started it with a Mark Twain quote.
      Wonderful reflections Bob.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
      Have a great weekend!!!
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    Sep 26 2013: "Everybody lies." A memorable quote from Dr. House. Our human nature consists of multiple invisible forces that define our decisions and actions, but one that is the most often betrayed is trust. Trust is betrayed by a failure to meet a request or false pretense thereof, and the most common form of this is lying. We are heavily offended by lying because our expectation for whoever we have placed our trust in has not been fulfilled and it wounds our morale. We feel like we are not good enough for the person who has betrayed our trust, and that disappointment quickly turns to anger because of the fast reaction.
  • Sep 24 2013: Lying is a betrayal of the trust invested in the communication by the receiving party. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable when we engage in communications, reading, writing, or other communications. If we have no way of verifying the information, we need to trust that the information is good, accurate and relevant to our needs. If someone uses this trust to gain some advantage over us, then we add to the feeling of betrayal the feeling of being manipulated and disrespected. If the lie is out of ignorance, it is more annoying and we lose trust in all else we have taken on faith from this source. Sadly, if we propagate the information, we too might be guilty of a lie and have our own credibility damaged. This should underscore the importance of the truth and perhaps even explain why so many people spend their lives trying to capture it, study it, add it to the body of knowledge collected so far by the whole human race, and then share it with other people.

    The fact that so many people are so casual about lies and being lied to is a statement about the decay of our generation. We have been desensitized to the importance of truth by a barrage of lies from people more interested in swaying public opinion than to convey useful information.
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      Sep 24 2013: There is great truth, I think, in your last paragraph, Robert. When people make claims that are either false or "with reckless disregard for the truth," the word "decay" does come to mind. When one encounters "a barrage of lies from people more interested in swaying public opinion than to to convey useful information," it is natural to feel disgust, I would have said, more than offense. I would include along with clear lies, self-serving rumor and innuendo in this.

      We see this frequently in the public arena.
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    Lejan .

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    Sep 21 2013: Lying takes away our 'ability to judge', on which we further build our decisions and also our believes and values.

    Finding out, to have made false decisions or even no decisions at all, because someone lied at us, generates the unpleasant feeling of not having been in 'full control' of our very actions. This usually creates the reaction of feeling 'offended', as someone undermined intentionally our very self-sufficiency and this often in their favor.

    If someone lied at us in our favor, to protect us, and if this lie didn't conflict with our very core values, we usually don't react offended, as we understand and differentiate the motivation behind it.
  • Sep 21 2013: We project ourselves on the actions of others. I try not to do this. When someone i trust lies to me, I feel hurt.
  • Sep 21 2013: I don't lie to people, I don't see the necessity of lying. I am not offended when people lie to me as I see it as their issue. I think just keeping your opinion to yourself is sufficient for "the sake of maintaining safety or civility" Colleen
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      Sep 27 2013: Hi Colleen and welcome to TED conversations!

      I wholeheartedly agree with you...I don't lie, and it seems to complicate the life experience for those who do lie. Once a lie has been told, there usually has to be more and more lies to cover up the deception. I have no reason to be offended, because it gives me information about the person who chooses to lie.
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    Sep 21 2013: I think because when other people lie to you and you find it, you feel hurt. Usually,when you lie to others , you don't feel hurt,if they don't find the truth, you even feel happy sometimes.
    So the deeper people get hurt from the lie, the more offended people will get.
  • Sep 28 2013: I agree that we are heading towards the end times. When Jesus entered Jerusalem everyone thought that :the kingdom was at hand." It wasn't in the way they thought and yet it was in the way Jesus said. We have many signs today that point to the deterioration of morality and the soul and I look up to God for strength. Whether the world comes to an end today or tomorrow for today I must be about my Father's business is how I try to live my life.
    In my profession all that I do and say is directed by my faith and the scriptures. I ask God each day that His words be my words and His actions be my actions with my clients. Not all clients are professing Christians but I take them as God sends them. I sometimes plant seeds and sometimes have the honor of watching someone come to faith. I have in other words, a front row seat to watch what God does best.
  • Da Way

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    Sep 28 2013: A lot of the time we are offended because we feel under-estimated.
    The thought that "You think I couldn't see straight through your lies, do you think I'm stupid!?" occurs a lot subconciously when we see through someone's lies.
    When you lie to someone, in a way, you are making the assumption that you can successfully deceive them, and hence you are implying you can out-wit them or more intellegent than they are in some way.
    • Sep 28 2013: So what you speculate is that perhaps we are offended by a lie when we think the liar believes that they are smarter than us and essentially believe we are stupid. What offends us is not so much the lie but the sense that the liar thinks we are stupid. It is the negative label and not the lie that is offensive.
      • W T

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        Sep 28 2013: I have a perfect example of this.

        A few years back I walked into a garden center and asked one of the employees....."You don't have potting soil in a smaller bag do you? And his answer......"You yourself have said it mam"

        Inside I was boiling..........because #1, he was from a country whose culture I know very well.
        and #2, I was very familiar with how certain individuals from that culture use that phrase to lie in a discreet way.

        I just smiled and walked to the back of the garden section, where I proceeded to get the soil in a small bag and buy it.

        I never did see that employee again. Don't know if they fired him or what............but the bugger was a big fat liar.......and I definitely took umbrage with his lie.
  • Sep 27 2013: I think these are great observations. I wonder though, because of the way you phrased this, that you are creating a hierarchy of lying. In other words lying doesn't matter about what someone lied about so much as who lied to you. And then I have to ask, do you think that really matters?
    • W T

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      Sep 27 2013: Are you talking to me?

      Could you come back to my comment and hit the RED REPLY button to the right of my name so that I know for sure.

      Thanks, Mary.
      • Sep 27 2013: Hi Mary, yes I was replying to you. I think these are great observations. I wonder though, because of the way you phrased this, that you are creating a hierarchy of lying. In other words lying doesn't matter about what someone lied about so much as who lied to you. And then I have to ask, do you think that really matters?
        • W T

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          Sep 27 2013: Thanks for replying to me directly.

          You know Mark, I never thought about it in a hierarchy sort of way.

          I think that the levels are more related to intimacy issues.

          Government officials do not know each and every citizen. They are just doing the best they can with their responsibilities. And many times they succumb to corruptive, they lie.

          Co-workers might have hidden agendas to scale the ladder of the so called 'success' that everybody speaks. They are looking out for Numero Uno.....themselves.

          But with family members......well, we have to be associating with them our entire life.
          They are the first ones to respond in a case of emergency, coming to our aid and nurturing us back to health. They are usually the first ones we see in the morning, and the last ones we talk to at night. There should be honesty at all times within the family circle. But we all know that is not the case.

          A lie is a matter who utters it.
          But in this world we live in, I think we have all become accustomed to the fact people do lie, and many of us are not at all surprised when someone does lie.........

          As a Christian Mark, I have read in scripture that the entire world lies under the power of the wicked one.......and it calls him the father of the lie. So it really does not surprise me when people lie. I have learned that I am only able to control my actions and words.........I am not in control of other's actions and words. And "when people show me who they are, I need to believe them" (as Maya Angelou so aptly said in an interview, to borrow her words)

          Sooner or later, all liars will have to deal with the consequences of their untruths.

          Do you think it matters who is doing the lying?
          Are you offended more depending on who lied to you?
          What prompted you to ask the question in your OP?

          I hope you don't mind me asking you questions Mark. :D
      • Sep 27 2013: I think what prompted me ta ask the question was as I said, realizing not only in your comments but in others, that there was some kind of hierarchy being discussed and I found that interesting and yet I wasn't sure what to think of that. So, yep, I picked on your comment so to speak (I hope you don't mind. And no I am not trying to be nasty. I think the strength of Ted Talks is that you can have these kinds of conversations and explorations.) to start trying to understand this thinking more clearly.

        I must admit that in my job, people lie to me all the time. And for the most part it doesn't bother me other than I am confused as to why they need to lie sometimes. Other times I am fully aware of their need to lie. I am a therapist who sees couples and also deals with sexual addictions so I hear lots of lying. Sometimes people are not telling the truth but believe they are. As I sometimes say. both a truth and a lie both run on the same fuel; belief. And I can believe a lie as easy as I can believe a truth. It is just that one is deceiving. We can deceive others and/or deceive ourselves.

        I am not offended by people lying to me. That said, if I find someone lies to me frequently it will affect my ability to believe or trust what they say.

        As a Christian as well I know that Jesus said to love your friends and family but to love your enemies as well. In my opinion the number one enemy (besides Satan obviously) we all have is ourselves. That being said we are our own worst enemy because of our failure to stop lying to ourselves which prevents us to live a life free of strife. Let me correct myself then, perhaps the only time I am offended is when I realize I have lied to myself. Ouch!
        • W T

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          Sep 27 2013: Let me first say that I value the interchanges I have on TED.
          I in no way felt that you were being a matter of fact I found your questions to be wonderful, and I am glad you encouraged me to provide further thoughts. Although my brain cells on Friday are a bit tired......LOL

          Back in December of 2011 I hosted a conversation on honesty, here is the link:

          You might enjoy reading through it's brief contributions.

          As I was reading your last entry, a quote by the late Richard Feynman jumped out at me:

          "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool."

          So, yes, Ouch! when a person who is aware of how easily it is to fool oneself realizes that he/she has been doing just does kind of hurt. An easy way to detect if you are lying to yourself is if you are constantly trying to justify your choices and actions. Would you agree with this?
      • Sep 28 2013: I'm not sure defensiveness is a definitive test of self-deception other than if you believe you are the only one who is right, I like the Feynman quote.I am currently reading James Hollis', "Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life." Hollis is a Jungian analyst and his book talks in great detail about our human complexes which is essentially psycho mumbo jumbo for self lying but it is a great read on helping one discover their self deception. Perhaps what concerns me most is that as a society we are becoming more and more numb to the call of morality and truth and getting lost further and further in a sea of narcissism. The fact that we expect our politicians to lie in and of itself is alarming and disheartening. So if they lie why can't we. Many philosophers have suggested that the state of current political morality is a mere reflection of the current societal zeitgeist. And now lets add the word "scary" to the previous descriptors.
        • W T

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          Sep 28 2013: Thanks for your reply. I have heard of Jung, he is mentioned on TED now and again.
          Unfortunately I do not have much knowledge of his teachings.

          ""psycho mumbo jumbo".......I'm partial to the phrase pseudo babble myself.

          Perhaps your observation that we are becoming numb to the call of morality and truth and getting lost further and further in a sea of narcissism might be one of the reasons why there was not much participation in my conversation on honesty.

          But Mark, as a Christian, don't you think that this is a sign of the last days mentioned at Matthew chapter twenty four, and the second letter to Timothy chapter three verses one through five?

          How does your knowledge of scripture fit in with your work, if you do not mind me asking you?

          Oh, and let me come back and say that morality is discussed infinitum on TED......just stick the word morality on the search box over there on the left of the screen and you will see.
  • Sep 27 2013: Bob I wish you happiness on your quest to be authentic, (no lie).
  • Sep 27 2013: I love your quote, I think it is a profound understanding of the affect of lying. Thank you for sharing this.
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    Sep 24 2013: People are offended when they find out about a lie because they can't believe the one lying is so bad at acting.
    • Sep 24 2013: That is just too funny
  • Sep 21 2013: I wonder if we get offended because of carried embarrassment over the lies we have uttered to others. We carry a shame that gets triggered when we are lied to and then this gets projected. Honesty may truly be the best policy but some kind of fear of vulnerability runs interference on our ability to be transparent and we wind up lying.
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    Sep 21 2013: Because we, humans, tend to get involved into other's problems; a kind of empathy? The result of a lie could be a bitter feeling of failure and a sense of have made oneself ridiculous..
  • Sep 21 2013: It's your Ego that is hurt. You ain't your ego. But it sure seems like it. If yer hurtin, yer misperceiving.