Last Man Standing are articles intended to help the average guy prepare for some of life’s oddest events. It’s just advice. It’s better than being clueless.

You’re hung over and can’t make it to work on time, or not at all. You lost the quarterly financial report (which made your department look very bad), or you didn’t even do it. You picked up a girl last night, and she turned out to be your boss’s younger sister, or worse yet, his wife. You lost the multi-million dollar account because you made an inappropriate fart joke to the CEO of a major corporation….

So now, if you want to keep your job, you’re going to have to lie your butt off.

The Basics of Lying

There are certain behaviors people exhibit when telling a lie. You want to do the exact opposite, and mask the ‘tells’ as much as possible.

– Keep eye contact with the person you’re lying to, but don’t stare them down. Be friendly about it. Liars tend to avoid direct eye contact.

– Force yourself to look to the right if and when you do break eye contact. This is the direction we look when we’re remembering something. We look to the left when we’re making something up.

– Keep as calm as possible. Don’t play with your hands, clothing or hair. Nervous people tend to fidget more than normal. You want to avoid that in order to sell your lie.

– Try not to smile too much, make funny faces, or burst out laughing for no apparent reason. Any major divergence from everyday behavior can give you away.

Keep a Running List of Past Lies and Excuses

This is for habitual liars, who have a hard time keeping track of their fairy tales. You only have so many grandmothers, so you can only attend their imaginary funerals so many times. If you lie often, keep a discreet list (not on your computer at work) of the excuses and lies you’ve told in the past. DO NOT put your name on this list, in case of discovery (that should be a no-brainer).

A list will help you keep the web of deceit you’ve woven straight in your head. It will also keep you from repeating the same lies over and over again. Be creative and original in your deceptions.

Practice Your Lies

Practice makes perfect. If you have time, prep your excuses and lies ahead of time, and try to anticipate possible challenges to your falsehoods. If you’re prepared, you’ll stumble less when speaking, and won’t fumble around for details.

At the end of the day, this is acting, but you don’t want it to feel like acting. Most of us have come across ‘theatrical’ liars who over do it. While they might be great thespians on stage, their lies are extremely transparent in real life. Subtly is key here. Go for your best, Oscar-worthy performance. Practice, and then practice some more. That’s what mirrors are for.

Don’t Oversell The Lie

You need enough detail and background story to flesh out the lie, but too much detail can be suspicious as well.

Your friend, who’s a doctor, has offered to cover for your week-long work absence. You were drunk in Key West, at least you think you were, but you’ve told your boss that you had a terrible flu. Great, you’re covered. Now don’t go and tell your boss every tiny detail about the fluids that leaked from your body while you were sick, or your doctor’s middle name, his favorite board game and the bra size of his ex-wife… that’s simply too much information.

We tend to give unnecessary information when we think people are on to our lies. Stick with your original story, keep the details simple and solid, and don’t over-embellish.

Act Like You Don’t Care

Tell your lies like they’re small, unimportant news flashes you just happen to be discussing in passing. If you act like the news you’re imparting is incredibly important, the listener might pay more attention to you than you’d like, which means more time for you to betray yourself. Keep your lies simple, straightforward, and clean. The closer the lie is to the truth, the harder it will be for you to muck it up.

Good luck out there, liars.

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