This week, I am thinking about a certain type of lie, that I do not
understand because I didn't grow up with. In the Anglo-Saxon-American
culture, yes means yes, no means no and it's ok to say, ''I don't know yet.''
If I personally were to tell a lie, it would only be a deliberate attempt to
get away with something that I don't want the other to know about. But I
would never say, ''I'll meet you at 3:00 inshallah'' and not show up!
What purpose does this type of lying serve, and what is going through the
mind of the person doing it? Avoiding conflict? Is it really so important to
be agreeable that you would then inconvenience the person? Your word is your
honor! If you habitually lie about things that don't even matter much, where
is the person inside you that another person can connect with? Or is there
just a persona?
Some people lie habitually. I have noticed certain cultures don't like to say
no, or they don't want to disappoint you, or they don't want to get in a deep
discussion about what they can and cannot offer versus what they want. To me,
honest back and forth is the basis of relationship!
For example, someone has been doing this to me repeatedly. It could be
anything from ''What are you doing today?'' to ''Do you want to buy a house
together?'' But it's usually a friendly attempt on my part to coordinate
plans, goals and dreams. The person will respond agreeably, then after a
while, will stop responding. Then when confronted, will make up a story, and
the previous conversation dead ends. Or, when asked a simple yes or no
question, would not answer, and then again make up a story about not getting
the text or some other excuse.
It's clearly meant to avoid a certain type of discussion. There might be a
miscommunication or misunderstanding about coordination of plans vs. having
time (two separate issues in my mind).
The other thing some do is becoming silent to send a message of displeasure
rather than just stating what the problem is, putting the other person in the
position of having to read your mind.
This irritating behavior can be frustrating. Are they arrogantly neglecting
our need to communicate? …or maybe they haven't said the simple truth
throughout their entire life?
''Many cultures don't have the same black and white standard of Americans,''
advised Ashley Jones, who has been in a cross cultural marriage for the last
eight years and enjoys hosting foreign exchange students in her home.
''You want to have a yes/no black/white conversation which is very American
style. I know I have come to a place where I get more direct when I need a
definite answer from my students.
I guess those cultures have much looser definition of lying. I don't think it
is a lie specifically to deceive with malice but more of saving face or not
wanting to disappoint. I think when dealing cross culturally, we have to give
grace and adjust our expectations.''
Not only is there an East-West conflict about communication styles, but in
both cultures men often engage in attempts at female appeasement to avoid
upsetting her rather than just discussing the situation as they would do with
a male friend. Maybe some of this weird communication style has to do with
sexism. Some men don't view women as someone you coordinate together with; it
can be more about mutually pleasing each other rather than working together
as a team. Women can be loved deeply but are not always part of decisions.
Some cultures, due to political oppression, may also have an exaggerated fear
of being accused, resulting in overreaction. If you are sensitive to being
interrogated by the police, you might overreact to your wife asking for
attention. Even a normal question like ''Are you home?'' might make a man
feel obligated to do whatever she wants or she will be upset.
''To a large degree, I have noticed this phenomenon in East Asian and Middle
Eastern cultures. This is a desire, both for the sake of courtesy and
avoidance of conflict. To put it mildly, it can be frustrating when one is
engaged in negotiation or evenly simply trying to plan social events.
Obviously, cultural programming, of ANY variety, is a tricky issue to deal
with, particularly when it has been absorbed into spiritual and religious
practice,'' Christian Zedd told TMO. His parents worked in Iran from
1974-1978 when he was aged 12-16. ''Truth be told, we ALL carry our
upbringing's cultural inheritance with us. About the best we can do, corny as
it sounds, is call them as we see them and play the cards as they're dealt,
recognizing that we don't all have the same cards.
Basically, the closer the relationship, the more important it is to clarify
the terms and values. One can work or chat with just about anyone on the
planet. For something like marriage or a business partnership, there had
better be virtual identity of values and focus. That would boil down to one's
faith and the role of faith in one's life.''
''Why do Lovers Lie?'' on truthaboutdeception.com states: ''When
interdependence is high, telling the truth is important. Telling the truth
allows people to coordinate their actions, create intimacy and closeness.
But, interdependence also makes deception more likely. Because partners
expect and demand a lot from us, telling the truth carries more risk.
''Telling the truth in a close relationship can lead to increased conflict,
negativity and it can restrain one's goals (i.e., ''you can't do that''). As
it stands, both telling the truth and deception are needed to make a
relationship work. Intimacy requires honesty, but complete honesty tears
couples apart. Finding the right balance, can be difficult for many couples