Today, I had an interesting conversation with my girlfriend about the ‘how to get ahead at work‘ post. Whilst helpful when you have time on your side, there wasn’t really any discussion about what you can do during those ‘pressurised’ moments where you have only moments to react? As such, in order to make sense of those ‘pressurised’ moments we began by separating this topic into two main areas; ‘technical brilliance’ and ‘the ability to talk.’ This conversation then went on for a while until she reached the conclusion ‘the ability to talk is based on your ability to lie.’
However, I had to disagree with this statement. Yes, people that are good at lying are sometimes good at talking. However, the really good ‘liars’ are much more than that. A good ‘liar’ or ‘a good ‘lie’ takes a certain level of skill which is what I’d like to talk about for this post.
I’ll call this post, A Good Lie.
What I’m going to say is nothing new. There are plenty of more in depth discussions out there (you could read any link about bullshit – e.g. How to master the art of bullshit
). However, for people more mathematically inclined the idea of pattern recognition may be more effective. So to begin with I’d like to present at idea; all similar scenarios follow the same themes or components. Similar to how we use economics to explain how business works or physics to explain how gravity works, A Good Lie also follows a set of principles. These are the Enabler
, the Facilitator
and the Believer
. I’ll now quickly discuss these three roles. Enabler
– the enabler creates a scenario, where a lie is possible. It may not be a lie yet but as the seeds have been planted the enabler can very easily manipulate the facts to satisfy their own agenda which may be a downright lie. Facilitator
– the facilitator is the person that allows the scenario created by the enabler to hang around. Be warned, the more control the facilitator has over the scenario, the better placed they will be to act upon a lie. Believer
– the believer is unfortunately the victim of the lie because without a gullible believer, a lie is not a lie.
In almost every case, a good liar will take the form of the enabler or the facilitator (or both), leaving you to be the gullible believer. This is because a good liar understands the fundamental structure required for each scenario. For example, in the work place, the best liars or bullshitters understand the key components that keep the business together. At times, they may not know all the specifics such as ‘who is required for each role’
, but they know ‘what roles are required.’
Similarly, the liar/bullshitter knows when they can get away with being ‘lazy’
and when they must ‘work.’
Having this knowledge allows the liar to create or facilitate scenarios where it may appear that they know what they are talking about. This illusion allows the believer to fall into the trap where they then fill in the blanks for the liar. It also means that during a meeting or when seeking a promotion, the ‘liar’
is able to tailor what is said and even drive the conversation in the direction that they want; all the while appearing to know what they are talking about. This can often be quite disheartening if the person that’s good at lying isn’t you.
However, the great thing about this is that anyone can become better at this. In the office environment (or essentially any other job), everywhere you go, scenarios will repeat themselves quite regularly. The trick is to identify the common themes and then understand how to act upon them. Once you understand the key components to that scenario, you can essentially bullshit your way through any similar scenario that presents itself.
I therefore encourage you to start thinking about the following aspects when analysing a potentially recurring scenario:
– Who are the key decision makers
– Who can influence the key decision makers
– What are the defining factors that will affect the outcome’s timeline
– How can your skill set help the situation Developing generalised answers to each of these points will help you be prepared to sell ‘A Good Lie’
the next time you are put on the spot.
Thus, the next time you are sitting there and wondering why that person who doesn’t seem to do anything keeps getting promoted or that you wish that you could think of something to say when you meet someone new, remember this one key thing; the underlying formula stays the same.
Hopefully with a little bit of practice, you too can become skilled in ‘lying.’
#Hanbaobao PS: You may be wondering why Ari Gold is all over this post. I regard him as being highly skilled in the enabler and facilitator role. His assistant lloyd is a believer. That and i just find him amusing. As such, here’s two more of my favourite memes.
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