Take drama out of confronting a liar
I was recently lied to and it’s really bothering me. My sister said that I can't blame this person because she doesn't know any better. She wasn’t brought up the way we were. I totally disagree. I think people are capable of knowing right from wrong, despite their upbringing. My question is this: How do I confront this person about her lies?
Confronting this person is not always the best course of action.
Your ego may want to confront this person because it would make you feel safer and stronger — but it may not serve either of you.
May I give you some other ideas?
When a situation like this occurs, you must first step back and make sure you are seeing the situation and the people involved accurately. When you have self-esteem fears (that you aren’t good enough — which we all have to some degree) these fears can skew your perspective of the situation. You must check your fears, before you do anything else.
Here are three ways to check if confrontation is the right answer:
1 — Make sure your fears are out of the way and you can see yourself accurately.
Remember that your value isn’t on the line here. Your value is infinite and absolute and nothing anyone else does, thinks, or says can diminish you. You are the same you no matter what. You could choose not to be offended by this behavior, since it can't really hurt you.
We all have a tendency to focus on the bad behavior of other people because it makes us feel better about ourselves. We sometimes cast this person as the bad guy so we can feel like the good guy. You must make sure you aren't focused on their faults while ignoring your own. You must make sure you see this person accurately (the same way you see yourself).
We are all flawed, struggling human beings in process. Could you forgive this person for being flawed since you have flaws too?
Could you be making this a bigger deal than is necessary? Are you taking it personally when it really isn't about you? Or is this offense really unacceptable behavior that must be corrected in order to have a healthy relationship with this person?
If this behavior is rare, ornunderstandable in this person’s situation, or forgivable, the most mature course of action may be to forgive it and let it go. Listen to your gut to know.
If it is happening too often, is unacceptable abusive behavior or intentionally hurtful, then you should bring it up and talk to them about it, but in a loving way (I'll explain how below.)
2 — Make sure you are seeing the other person accurately
This person is a scared, struggling human being doing the best they can with what they know. The problem is, they don't know very much — and their perspective is clouded by fear.
Everyone has a core fear about “not being good enough.” This core fear drives most of their bad behavior. Can you see this person has fears about their value?
Remember that most bad behavior is about that fear, and it is usually not about you (even though it feels about you). It is about their fears about themselves. Most of their bad behavior is about protecting, promoting and edifying themselves, or putting their fear to rest in some way.
Can you see why this person behaved the way they did? What did this person really want and need? Could their bad behavior be a request for love?
(Bad behavior is usually a cry for love and validation.)
When you can see the fear that is motivating their behavior, you will have more compassion for them and see them more accurately. You will see their behavior for what it really is, a way to quiet their fear.
As part of this step (where applicable), I would recommend asking them questions before you say a word so that you understand where they are (or were) coming from. Do not assume that you know. Most of the time we speak before we have all the facts.
3 — Make sure you see this situation for what it really is, a lesson.
Your life is a classroom, every experience is a lesson and every person is a teacher. This person is in your life to teach you something. What could it be?
Some people are there to show you things about yourself. What is this experience showing you? Is it showing you some of your fears? Why would it serve you to see them?
Some people are in your life to give you the opportunity to be wiser, more compassionate or more forgiving. Some people are in your life to give you the opportunity to be stronger, speak your truth and stand up for yourself. You are the one who will know which lesson this is being taught.
How is this situation giving you an opportunity to be a better, wiser, stronger, more loving you?
If you decide this situation is in your life to teach you about speaking up or confronting someone, part of that lesson is learning to do it in a loving way.
If you approach this person with fear (focused on protecting yourself) the whole situation becomes about you. This approach is selfish and will cause the person to get defensive.
You must approach this person with love and compassion. Your goal must be to edify them, let them feel your unconditional (non-judgmental) love for them and talk about how you can both make the relationship better.
You must bring up this issue because you love them and don’t want them to need to lie because it’s beneath who they are. Then it's about them, not you. You want to show them that you see their goodness and believe in them.
This kind of conversation can edify both of you.
No one should feel judged or looked down upon if you approach this with love. No one should get defensive. Defensiveness only happens when you approach them with fear focused on protecting you. If your goal is to share your love first and foremost, then talk about the offense, things will go better.
I explained how to have validating conversations in this article link. I suggest you follow it and review these steps, too.
I’m not sure in your situation if you are supposed to learn to forgive this person for being an imperfect, human being in process and let it go, or if the lesson is to learn how to talk about her faults in a loving way, but you will know. Listen to your gut.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of www.ldslifecoaching.com and www.claritypointcoaching.com. She is a sought after life coach and popular speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.