Wed | Jan 29, 2020

Lying As A Success Strategy

Published:Sunday | September 11, 2016 | 12:00 AMTrevor E. S. Smith

Politics has taken centre stage as campaigns rage, and questionable statements are made on platforms, in interviews, via social media, and even in advertisements.

Some of these assertions catch on like wild fire, and are accepted as true by supporters and raise question signs among independents. Opponents are immediately thrown on the defensive to defuse potential damage from these statements.

Given the capacity of statements to throw opponents off their game plan, some individuals and their supporters incorporate false statements and half-truths as an integral part of their campaign strategy. As the campaigns heat up, we will hear a lot more statements that are intended to demean the character of the other side, or at least to keep them off balance defending their integrity and competence.

The media will be kept busy doing fact checks, but in the end, their efforts will be too late to reverse the damage and in most cases, their findings will be presented to audiences who have already made up their minds regardless of the results.

But are false statements limited to politicians and their campaigns?

The apostle Peter - Christian stalwart - lied boldfacedly to avoid being arrested, before breaking down in remorse. Lying is a skill that is developed from a surprisingly young age. There are few who have never been bewitched by its charms.

So, how do we navigate life when truth and transparency are not guaranteed and deliberate deception is pursued as a winning strategy?

We are almost defenceless against the onslaught and the finely honed skills that can be brought to the act of deception. Believe me (wink), the following helps:


VI. Source Check


What do we know about the credibility of the source? Has this source been known to provide trustworthy information?

The challenge with this is twofold. First, 'trust' is very subjective. If we like or approve of the source, we tend to believe them and label them as trustworthy. Second, even genuinely reliable sources can misspeak or present falsehood in error.


V. Target Check


What do you know about the subject of the statement? Given the facts that are available to you, does this statement seem credible?

Again, we do not have all the information about any subject and 'good' people, at times, make awful errors.


IV. Motive Check


Ask, 'who does the statement benefit and how?' What is the likely spin-off from this statement?

Imputing motive is one of the most dangerous things that we can do. However, drowning in the sea of deception, we clutch at this straw.


III. Data Check


This is the hard part, but the only reliable way to uncover the truth. Analyse the statement and do the research that will either corroborate its truthfulness or expose it as being false. This may involve consulting witnesses, doing Internet searches, contacting experts, doing forensic audits, and the list goes on ... Research!


II. Reality Check


The truth is that we run the risk of becoming paranoid. To avoid being found to be gullible, we inject an overdose of scepticism. There is a danger in that mindset. Trust is an essential component of healthy interpersonal relations. In the absence of trust, dysfunction reigns. The joy of life is snuffed out by anxiety and fear.

In low-trust environments, individuals are tempted to contemplate antisocial behaviour or withdrawal in the name of self-protection. This serves to ratchet up the cycle of deception or give power to the lies.


I. 'SELF' Check


Almost exclusively, lying and deception are designed to protect or promote SELF (EGO). Peter lied to avoid arrest. People lie to save face or to boost their image. Some deceive to get employed, while others lie to keep their jobs.

Scammers deceive to increase their wealth. Others suppress the truth for their own peace of mind.

SELF is the central player in deception. Lying as a strategy for success is in the service of SELF. Self-denial is the number-one antidote to lying and deception. Deny self and let truth reign!

Now enrolling for the SHRM-credentialed 'Certified Behavioural Coach' programme. Email:

• Trevor E. S. Smith is a behaviour modification coach with the Success with People Academy home of the 'Certified Behavioural Coach' and '3-D Team Leader' international certifications.