Lying is a common human behavior that often stems from a desire to avoid trouble or protect oneself. However, lying can have negative effects and cause you to lose trust and credibility. Thus, you may eventually feel the need to get out of a lie without telling the truth. This can be hard, but there are ways to get out of a lie without making things worse.
How to get out of a lie without telling the truth
You can get away with most lies without telling the truth. Do the following:
1. Understand the situation
The first step in getting out of a lie is to understand why you told it in the first place. People often lie to avoid bad things happening to them, to get an advantage, or just to protect themselves. Per Everyday Health, other reasons include protecting their own feelings, self-esteem, self-confidence, or other personal emotion.
Once you’ve figured out why you’re lying, think about what could happen if you keep lying. If the lie is likely to be caught, it may be best to admit the truth before it is too late.
2. Change the subject
Changing the subject is one of the simplest and most effective ways to get out of a lie and not say the truth. This works best if the lie isn’t too big. When you change the subject, you can steer the conversation in a different direction and avoid having to admit to the truth.
This strategy is not foolproof, though. You should pay attention to how the other person reacts and be ready to change the subject again if necessary.
While you change the subject, you want to avoid answering the question. Sometimes the best way to get out of a lie is to simply avoid answering the question. Try to change the subject if someone asks you a question about something you lied about by saying something like, “I don’t think that’s relevant” or “I don’t want to talk about it.” This can make it easier to not answer the question and keep the truth out.
3. Play dumb
Play dumb by acting like you don’t understand the question or aren’t sure what it means. This can buy you time to come up with an answer and keep you from telling the truth.
Ask for more information if you don’t understand what the person is asking. This can buy you time to come up with an answer and keep you from telling the truth.
4. Incorporate humor
Another way to get out of a lie is to try to make the person laugh. This method works best if the lie is not serious.
Make fun of the situation to ease the tension and keep the other person from getting angry or suspicious.
For example, you could say, “I can’t believe I just made that up on the spot.” Or “I must have been in a different reality when I said that.”
5. Cause a distraction
You want to create a distraction to draw attention away from the lie. A distraction can help you get out of a lie, for example, if your parents ask you about going somewhere at night and you lie about it, you distract them by pointing out something nearby or saying something else.
A distraction can help to divert attention away from the lie and probably stop further questions.
6. Blame it on forgetfulness
If the person asks you a question that you lied about, try to admit to forgetfulness. For instance, if they ask you if you finished a task and you lie that you did, try to admit that you forgot and apologize on the spot to diffuse the situation and prevent further questions about the lie.
You can also use ambiguity or vagueness when answering the question about the lie. Simply avoid giving a direct answer and instead give a vague answer.
For instance, if the person asks you if you have done something you lie about, you can say:
I can’t really remember
It’s not really relevant now.
This response can create confusion and uncertainty, which makes it less likely that the lie will be found out.
7. Shift the blame elsewhere
If you are being questioned about a lie, try to say that it was someone else’s fault. Let’s say someone asks if you finished a task. Just lie and say you did. However, you have to add that someone else was in charge of the task and you thought it was done.
Unfortunately, blame-shifting can be an emotionally abusive behavior or tactic. Some therapists consider it similar to gaslighting—Mindset Therapy.
This can help you avoid taking responsibility and keep the lie from being found out. The person may then be forced to accept the fact that you thought the task was done since you were not in charge. This technique will only be reasonable if the task has a supervisor or a primary person initially tasked to handle it.
8. Be partially truthful
Tell a partial truth. Sometimes, you can get out of telling a big lie by telling a partial truth. If you’re asked about finishing a task and you lie and say you did, try to admit that you only finished part of the task and explain why you couldn’t finish the whole thing. This will help to reduce the impact of the lie and prevent further questions about the truth.
You can add that you have been preparing to resume the task and will complete it sooner than expected.
9. Take the attention off the lie
Using deflection is another method for getting out of a lie. This method involves taking the attention off the lie and putting it on something else. For instance, you could say, “That’s not important right now.
Let’s focus on this other issue.” This can be a good way to change the subject and avoid having to admit the truth, but you should be careful not to change the subject too often or too forcefully, as this can make the other person suspicious and more determined to find out the truth.
10. Change the truth altogether
Changing the truth can sometimes help you get out of a lie. In this method, the specifics of the lie are changed to make it seem more plausible or consistent with the truth.
Let’s say you have lied about your experience or education for a job role. You could change your story to reflect the courses you have taken or the programs you have enrolled in. This can be effective, but it’s also risky because it can be hard to remember the details of the revised story, and it can lead to more lies and confusion.
11. Admit to the lie if caught
Don’t rule out the possibility of getting hooked along the line. If you are caught in a lie, you have to admit it and take responsibility for what you did.
This can be hard and embarrassing, but it is often the only way to get a chance to regain trust and respect.
When admitting to a lie, be honest and apologize for any damage you may have caused. Let’s say you told your boss a lie and need to confess it. Explain why you felt the need to lie in the first place and what steps you will take to avoid similar situations in the future.
Getting out of a lie without telling the truth can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. With evasion, misdirection, confusion, distraction, delay, or apology technique, you can find a way to resolve the situation without causing problems for yourself or others. Ultimately, while lies come with serious consequences, honesty is always the best policy.