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Old 02-15-2013, 10:38 PM   #1 (permalink)
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how do you deal with compulsive liars?

a while ago, i was in a conversation in which i mentioned someone hijacking a car.

i was promptly "corrected." the person matter-of-factly stated the term is reserved for airplanes. he said the correct term for carjacking is "lojacking" because the plane is high up and the car is low.

luckily, there are others in this conversation, so after they corrected him, i informed him that "lojack" is a brand. he turned this against me and questioned me in an accusational tone "what kind of car is it, where is it from, etc" because he's never heard that brand before.

now i had to explain to him that it's not a car brand and what lojack really is. then i asked him who told him it meant "stealing a car." he finally said nobody told him, he "figured it out" himself that it means stealing cars.

---------------------------------------

so that's how it when down when the topic is one that i have knowledge on. fast forward to today the water cooler topic is the russian meteor, that's when he stated again, matter-of-factly, that it came from the recently seen supernova.

i asked him if he knows how far a super nova usually is, and he was wise enough to say lightyears; i then asked how does he know the destroyed meteor's material is a perfect match to that supernova, that's when he backtracked and said he didn't mean THAT supernova.

but i called him out on that, then i asked how a rock can shoot out from a supernova, one which everyone suspects will become a black hole that sucks in everything, his final answer was that because the black hole will become a supernova again once it sucks in enough things.

now that last part i know really isn't true. nobody knows what happens to black holes to say it so matter-of-factly, let alone something as precise as "it will become a supernova again." the closest idea is steven hawking's that it'll evaporate into energy, and even then i doubt energy will turn itself into a rock.

but i am no expert, so i just said ok. now he's got that smirk on his face like he's suddenly the smartest man alive. this isn't right. how do you guys handle these conversations when your expertise falls short of the other guy's imagination? either in front of others or alone? in a social environment? (that means i can't sock him in the face)
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Old 02-15-2013, 10:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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WALK away. I worked with a guy who had done and seen EVERYTHING. Anything I had done he had done somethime grander.He tried correcting me on almost everything. You will drive your self nuts tring to correct some people, best thing to do is just nod to their ignorance and walk away.
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Old 02-15-2013, 10:46 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I don't know what to do about this, but I did know a compulsive liar once. He was a very accomplished guy, and he even became a professor at a large respected university.
I realized his lying was compulsive because he lied even if "the truth sounded better." There were lies without any motive. He once lied about where he parked his car.
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Old 02-15-2013, 10:54 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Lie compulsively back, I drive the worlds fastest lojack
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Old 02-15-2013, 10:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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misinformed you can fix

stupid you can't.

laugh, shake your head and walk away.
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Old 02-15-2013, 11:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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spike his food with laxative. watch him lie his way out of that.
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Old 02-15-2013, 11:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melvin View Post
spike his food with laxative. watch him lie his way out of that.
i liked all replies, but this i like best

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Originally Posted by dukie View Post
misinformed you can fix

stupid you can't.

laugh, shake your head and walk away.
not happened yet but hypothetically, what can one do, as a colleague and not a superior, when the lie would affect a project, or safety, of those who actually believe him, and when you suspect you are the only person aware of his antics?
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Old 02-15-2013, 11:38 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psunitro View Post
WALK away. I worked with a guy who had done and seen EVERYTHING. Anything I had done he had done somethime grander.He tried correcting me on almost everything. You will drive your self nuts tring to correct some people, best thing to do is just nod to their ignorance and walk away.
^^^

This. It also sounds like this individual may suffer from a case of the 'nonetoobrights'.

Either way, the more you attempt to engage, the more frustrated you will become. Also, if a fool wants to blow a hole in his own boat, it's no mark of prudence to jump on board and try to score brainy points on him as the ship goes down. It may be tempting to wade in, but restraint is the virtue here. Keep your feet dry.

You should also become comfortable with your limitations. You can't know everything, don't need to know everything, and probably don't want to anyway. Most of what's out there, we don't know, and a good bit of what we do know is almost certainly better left unknown. If the conversation gets out of your depth, you can simply say, "Hey, I don't know about that. Let me do some digging and find out more about it, so I can hold a better conversation with you."

And sometimes, even if you know that you know the answer to something, it's not always best to let it out, since even correct knowledge on an obscure topic might end up making you look like the fool/dunce/ignoramus, or liar.

If it is truly a kind of pathological situation, simply choose either the right or the left ear of the obnoxious person, then concentrate on and speak to that, politely nodding and thoughtfully tugging at your chin. Continue doing this every time the two of you speak. Change ears each day you talk. Don't overplay your hand. Be completely straight-faced about it. If there is a shred of wit in your water cooler nincompoop, the force of this gesture will radically outweigh any open mockery or shaming, and may actually do some good for the person.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jellyghost View Post
I don't know what to do about this, but I did know a compulsive liar once. He was a very accomplished guy, and he even became a professor at a large respected university.
I realized his lying was compulsive because he lied even if "the truth sounded better." There were lies without any motive. He once lied about where he parked his car.
Wait. If this is a liar, then how did he get to be a prof? And where? And in what? Surely you aren't taking his word for it?
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Last edited by Menace; 02-15-2013 at 11:42 PM.
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Old 02-15-2013, 11:46 PM   #9 (permalink)
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uh he doesn't sound like a compulsive liar... he sounds like a MORON, who makes statements without any consideration to their accuracy... lots of people do it to varying degrees (because they talk before they think, or their talker isn't connected to their brain).
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Old 02-15-2013, 11:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by heinous View Post
not happened yet but hypothetically, what can one do, as a colleague and not a superior, when the lie would affect a project, or safety, of those who actually believe him, and when you suspect you are the only person aware of his antics?
All you can do is present the truth in good faith with supporting evidence and let people make up their minds. Escalate it up the management chain, document and publish your case, whether that means e-mailing your boss (instant record), or other company or industry specific method (e.g. file an engineering report). Depending on specifics, you can be a whistleblower and go to outside authorities.
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