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How to respond to lies

How to respond to lies

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  • Use this guide to help you respond to someone lying to your face.
  • There are lots of reasons why people lie.
  • You can respond in a couple of ways:
    • No response – just cut off contact with a liar (not always possible)
    • Give them the opportunity to self-disclose (see )
    • Call them out directly – the talking points below will help you do this
    • Some of these talking points were adapted from Dr. Emerson Eggerrichs’ book, “Before You Hit Send
  • Never underestimate the power of a protracted silence. Often people start talking because they can’t stand the pregnant pause.

Talking Points

  • I don’t think you are being truthful with me, <name>.
  • I’m afraid I don’t believe you.
  • It hurts that you can’t trust me with the truth.
  • Is this really the story you want to go with?
  • Please tell me the truth. You will feel better when you get it all out. I will listen to your whole story without judgement.
  • I need you to be courageous no matter the consequences. When fear causes you to withhold truth, I need you to bravely declare, ‘I can handle the truth!’
  • I need mutual respect here. When you lie to serve yourself, I feel used and useless as a human being. I matter, too, and must live with myself, as well as with you.
  • I need your total transparency. When you evade my questions, I’m suspicious. I suspect a coverup when you avoid me, saying, ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I plead the fifth.’
  • I need you to be you. You may not like who you are, but I do. However, I cannot have a relationship with someone who isn’t humbly honest about who they are.
  • I need you to resist the convenience of lying. Today you may get by with a lie, but next month you must remember it exactly to do damage control. That’s long, hard work.
  • I need you to stop making assumptions based only on feelings, Your feelings are real, but that does not necessarily make them right. You need facts to back your feelings.
  • Don’t let your integrity cause you to promise to keep secret another’s lack of integrity! What a contradiction! They are taking advantage of you. This is a losing game for you.
  • You’re not doing anyone a favor by lying to them. That’s not a virtue; it’s enablement.
  • I need you to tell the truth up front. Then you won’t have to lie about lying. You’ll be so much happier when you don’t have to worry about keeping up with what you’ve said.
  • Only a pure genius can recall all lies and all truths. You and I will forget. And even if you’re a genius who can remember it all, you’re still lying. Telling the truth is so much smarter.
  • You’re great with words, but I need you to figure out why you try to mislead others with them. You have plenty to be proud of without exaggerating and tricking people with double meanings.
  • Lying just to see if you can get away with it is a cruel game. Why do you think you do that? Are you bored? Is there some group you’re trying to impress with how smart you are in fooling others?


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