Lies are also known as fibs, falsehood, falsification, half-truths. Even exaggeration is considered a form of lying which many of the advertising guys indulge in when they are promoting products or services. Sales people are known not only for exaggeration but also telling white lies while trying to sell their products. There is an interesting saying in Tamil which describes the salesman as a person who has a pye (bag) in his hand, tie on his neck, lie on his lips (kaiyile pai, kazhuthile tie, vayile poi). A friend who was a successful marketing man in his lifetime described the job of a salesman as one who can tell white lies with convincing logic.
Apart from ad guys and sales people, others who have to tell lies as a part of their profession are lawyers and politicians. The latter`s election promises are most often a bunch of lies. And there are , ofcourse, ordinary people who are congenital liers, who tell lies through their teeth, for no rhyme or reason. The most common among them are the habitual borrowers who will tell a hundred lies to borrow money and equal number to justify why they cant repay.
There is another saying in Tamil according to which a family can tell a thousand lies to conduct a marriage (Aayiram Poi Solly Oru Kalyanam). In real life, however, it does not work. I know of a friend`s friend who divorced his wife within a couple of months of his marriage when he discovered that his wife who was supposed to be a graduate had not even entered the portals of a college. He refused to live with a lie!
On the other hand a fib is a harmless lie, which all of us use to get out of tricky situations. Like the fibs that husbands tell their wives or what the students tell their parents or teachers.
I learnt the word from one of my bosses, early in life. I was a Management Trainee with an NGO before I got into advertising. The boss was a great disciplinarian who tried to instill the importance of systems, procedures, time management and honesty in me. He also exposed me to the futility of telling lies to get out of situations.
This boss had the habit of visiting the tables of his staff once in a while as it happened to me within a month of my joining the NGO. Sitting on my chair, he asked me to take out my personal things from the drawer. Then he started pulling out official papers from the drawer which related to items on which I ought to have taken action but had not. However, I had lied to him that I had taken action. As I stood shivering at the exposure and waiting to be fired he invited me to his room for a chat.
Instead of admonishing me he told me that what I had done was not lying but fibbing. He said,” A fib is a harmless lie. But when you get into the habit of fibbing regularly, it becomes a white lie, which can lead you to messy situations”.
I realized early in life that one must be extremely clever to tell a string of lies to cover up the earlier lie. The policy of not lying had helped me win the hearts of hundreds of clients that I have serviced during my long career as an advertising man. Instead of lying to cover up a mistake, I would be the first to inform the client about my mistake and seek his understanding. He will invariably appreciate my honesty and help me get out of the situation.
Even if you are not living a lie or lying through your teeth the fact is that all of us tell lies, to save ourselves from tricky situations, sometimes leaving the guilt of our lies, lying heavily on us.