I think there is a great difference between being a constant liar and a strategic liar. The constant liar is easy to pick up on. They recklessly tell many more falsehoods than truth, sometimes avoiding truth altogether, and the stories quickly fail the smell test. Eventually the inconsistencies catch up with them and they are no longer trusted by anyone. What purpose does this serve the liar? Does it make them feel better about themselves to build such a network of lies when no one subscribes to their story? From the exaggerator that inflates achievements and experiences to the professional that fakes credentials, constantly lying leads to an inescapable fate of not being able to win over anyone. Many psychopaths fall into this category, but I will argue that they are not using their talents to the degree that they could. They are stupid psychopaths. The truly successful psychopaths realize that lying is an art and, if used correctly – like a spice to enhance a meal – , can hold great power.
Now, I am not saying that the successful psychopath cannot tell any lies. In fact, I do believe it is possible to tell more lies than reality in one’s quest to charm and manipulate a target. The trick is to remain strategic in the telling of lies. I take the following approaches in my use of lying to get the outcome I want from a person that I am talking to. By and large, I am very successful.
This is arguably the most important key to lying successfully. Every sentence that one utters should be able to be perceived as a reasonable act or truth that they have done in their life. If your background is in HVAC systems, and your target knows this, you should not begin talking about your contributions to quantum mechanics at the local university. It obviously would fail the reasonability test. Likewise, if you are playing hooky from work, mentioning that your aunt dropped in unexpectedly from Sweden is probably not the best lie. This point should be common sense.
– Limit the scope of the lie
Except for the truly gifted with respect to memory and storytelling, keeping lies limited in time and scope is extremely important. A good lie should be one that is limited to the day at hand and should be framed in such a way to where the deceived have absolutely no reason to revisit whether you are telling the truth on a subsequent day. I do not have the best memory. I don’t want to have to recall the web I spun weeks ago. If I am explaining why I missed an engagement, I will use a very vague reference to an ‘unexpected personal engagement’. There is no reason to give too many details, unless pressed, and most people are so naive that they will defer to your privacy if you are adamant. This is the golden rule of lying: people believe that others tell truth and are good people; do not back yourself in a corner by revealing more than you have to. The novice liar believes that she must frame some elaborate story in order to not be found out. This only leads to contradictions, which leads to that undesired result of being found out. Keep it simple, stupid.
– Use truth like salt
Salt is very important to many cooking recipes, but must be used sparingly unless it ruin the overall flavor of the dish. Think of truth in the same manner. Truth is arguably the most important part of lying. By sprinkling just enough truth into your conversation and building a reputation of truth-telling, the lies are made much more believable. As a psychopath, I am very loathe to take responsibility for my actions. However, if I do it just enough, the times when I do not seem believable and have the nice effect of keeping me out of hot water. Lying is the same way. Show a picture of you and your dog. Play a song you’ve written. Describe something productive you’ve done with your life. Engage the listener and then go for the kill with falsehoods. Using truth sparingly will invite the target to believe you in full. They will then be easy to lie to and manipulate.
So, the ultimate trick is to be strategic. Lie when you need to. Make it believable, limited in scope so that the listener has little reason to challenge you, and add truth as a tenderizer to go for the kill. It is truly an art, but one that is not that hard to learn.