Let’s face it, we all lie. It starts out very innocent when as a child we lie to our parents about who took the cookie from the cookie jar. This behavior is so prevalent that a child’s game by the same name was popular when my daughter was growing up. It went something like this … everyone in the group would say, “who stole the cookie from the cookie jar” and one child would point to another saying “she/he did” whereby the accused child would say “not me, couldn’t be” and everyone would chorus again “well then who did steal the cookie from the cookie jar” with this cycle repeating itself over and over until the children became tired of the game. In the game there is no consequences and in real life very little was done when a child did steal a cookie. Unfortunately, the lack of consequences for children did lead to a number of those in their adult years being caught with their hand in the cookie jar.
Small lies continue as a child ages with the next phase involving school homework. Who wants to do homework … I certainly didn’t when I was a kid. When my daughter lied to me telling me she had her homework completed I believed her not because I knew she was telling the truth but because I wanted to believe her. I was empathetic to her disdain for homework and the inconveniences it created in her play time with friends and computer time. The lesson that children learn from this experience is that a good lie is one which everyone wants to believe is true. If you don’t believe that statement I’d like to direct your attention to the recent political ads where they tell us what we want to hear rather than what we need to hear.
As time goes by and children grow into adults the skill of lying is honed to a fine art. For most, little white lies such as calling into the office faking a cold is the extent lying is practiced, but for others they make a career out of lying and have learned the one trick that makes even the most unbelievable lies believable. The secret to lying is that every great lie contains some small element of truth. For instance, an investor wants to believe in the venture where a loom turns straw into gold. For a small investment in straw the loom that is being marketed will produce the same amount of gold. The inventor of the loom demonstrates that the loom works by being locked up overnight in a seemingly impenetrable room with a pile of straw. When the room is opened in the morning the straw is gone and a pile of gold is in its place. The presence of the gold in the room is an element of truth … the gold is real. How it got there is the lie, but the investor wants to believe it is that easy to get rich and orders a loom form the inventor. Now the story is a fairytale that we all heard growing up but it is replicated over and over in our society. It must work … I must get at least one email a week from someone wanting to get billions out of some third world country and all they need is my help for which they will share their wealth if I will allow them access to my bank account so they can transfer the money into this country. I’ve not taken the bait but I assume a test transfer of a small amount will go into the victim’s account just fine and directly thereafter all funds in the victim’s account will be drained.
How do we protect ourselves from lies? At times it is hard because those people who are good at it will never be caught. Those who are bad at it get caught and learn quickly it is not worth it but there is a steady of new people coming of age who are testing the waters. The best we can do is to remember that if it is too good to be true it probably isn’t true. Also when you think it is too good to be true look for that one element of truth and ask yourself how did it get there? If it weren’t there would the story being told be believable.
CEO, Employing Broker
Katchen Company, founded in 1962, is an integrated real estate company with its corporate headquarters in Lakewood, Colorado. The company offers real estate development, redevelopment, property management, brokerage, consulting services, construction oversight and maintenance services to individual and institutional real estate investors throughout the greater Denver metropolitan area in Denver with satellite offices in Chicago, Las Vegas and Miami market areas.