Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

It's an uncomfortable subject.

Humans tend toward the sanctimonious.

They believe their politicians, their police officers and their judges should be absolutely above reproach.

At the same time, they themselves are hardly that.

People do things that they don't want anyone else to know. They hide their real selves behind masks, facades and keyboards.

And they lie. Oh, how people lie.

What, though, separates the good liars from the transparent?

Recently, Vox spoke to four people whose job necessarily involves lying: an undercover police officer, a graffiti writer, a dominatrix and, of all things, a lawyer.

Each has professional reasons to lie, even if you might not approve of their professions. (I'm talking, of course, about the lawyer.)

It was the undercover cop who, perhaps, offered the most subtle portrayal of the ins-and-outs of lying. It's not that I recommend that you, some of the most trustworthy readers in the known galaxy, suddenly turn toward evil.

But, hey, it's worth knowing how those on the dark side do it.

Here are five of the undercover cop's tips.

1. The first two minutes are crucial.

As the undercover cop put it: "You need to quickly build up a relationship using empathy. You need to emphasize a shared enemy and a shared fear." If they're already feeling uncomfortable with you in the first two minutes, you're going to have a very hard job winning their trust.

2. Be incredibly geeky about how others behave.

This is, sadly, impossible for most people in tech. They barely see people at all. The cop, though, says one way of proving yourself immediately trustworthy is to be exceptionally detailed about the way you look at other people. The more you know about how others behave (and even lie), the more you can learn about what works and what doesn't.

3. Remove the extra loop from your thought process.

The problem with lying is that you could be constantly thinking about how to tell the lie. This will inevitably cause the potential for pauses while you think. What this undercover cop did was learn all the so-called tells: Speaking too quickly, odd mannerisms such as looking at the floor and strange hand gestures. Once he'd done that and cut them out of his own behavior, there was less of a time-gap between the lie and its communication.

4. Don't think too much.

You know you're a good liar if it's instinctual, he says. You have to remove the actual lie from your consciousness. Just as with a sport, you simply have to relax into it and have faith that your learning, followed by your depositing your stories into instinct, is going to work. It's called confidence, I suppose.

5. Decide how much you need to depend on lying.

"If lying keeps you alive, it keeps you a good liar," he says. And in his case, that's true. This, though, has its depressing aspects. In some professions (goodness, perhaps most), many people don't live to lie, but merely live the lie. There are aspects that this cop emphasizes about making lying such a fundamental part of your existence. You need to have an excellent memory, not to the point where you come across as oddly suspicious, but a good memory in knowing not only others, but yourself. You have to practice, practice, practice. (Tinder might come in handy.) He suggests that the truth is still easier, if you can use it. Small lies are easier to get away with than big ones. He warns, though, that lying can become addictive. That's where, he says, it might tread all over (what's left of) your ethical core.

And that's the point at which you become a politician.

Published on: Jul 19, 2016
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