No lie is too big or small to be told. From the odd, illogical and completely unnecessary lies to the face-saving, generous or tactical lies, lying in China is an art form that can open (and close) numerous avenues.
An article written by Mark Turner at eChinacities.com about lying in China catches my full attention. He said:
“It seems that in China 'truth' is a different kind of beast, bending the laws of an inter-subjective reality, sometimes making up completely new ones as it goes along. One such rule is the 'if I say that x is y enough times and with enough conviction, then x really is y' rule.”
“I doubt there is any foreigner that has lived in China for an extended period that has not encountered an instance of this rule being brought into play. The effect is that they enter an argument knowing that they have seen sufficient evidence or that they recollect with enough clarity that they are able to vouch for a fact's complete truth; they're willing to swear on their mom's life or the bible – whatever they hold most dearly.”
So are Chinese people really such liars? I think not. And if you see the difference between Western and Asia people, is there a different at all? I think actually not really.
When we start to lie?
Everyone will still remember his childhood. And let me guess, nobody lied to the parents in his or her life. Is that really so? Was there not a situation the parents not allow you to go to a party? Or was there not a situation there was something done of you, what actually not was good but needed to hide, just that’s you not getting punished? This means everybody lied already from small on and sure some of us getting caught, some not. So it was never the question what kind of lie it was, it was the question how smart you could hide such lies. And it is not a question of a culture. Don’t you think?
No we are getting older and using different ways of communication, the internet.
Lies in the Internet
There was a time, very few people are used the internet. I can remember that time very well. It was a community, friendly, open minded and nobody call us “nerd”. Maybe we were only nerds, but this is another question. We organized parties, where people meet in “real” and not in the chat room and can discuss face-to-face problems or simply interesting themes. And I was one of them. I loved the GMX parties in that time and was very active that time. Google was so small, that’s only insider know what Google stand for. However, with the time I moved to Vienna and the internet became more famous. More people used the Internet; and there was the same trend that lies growing in the same speed. What actually to understand is. More people use the internet, more competition. So just to be cool, add some information, what could possible not true. And nobody ever could prove that. Just check Facebook or Google+, it is amazing what you find there.
But as with everything, the Internet improves day by day as well. So a lie is still a lie and some day, and it doesn’t matter is online or offline, it comes out. We have an old saying in Germany: “Lies have short legs”. And I don’t mean the girls which have a big body and smaller legs, this I really don’t mean. Just check out the Politicians in Germany. Many of them have a face doctor, or copy work. That is, thank internet, not more so easy to make. Ok, a politician not lie, he just not knew it better. Is that so? Such politicians just say “Oops” and that’s it. But if you or I do this, I am not sure this “Oops” has the same result. I am afraid not.
Lies in the business
Now, this is the really interesting part. When is Advertising actually true? Does not each manufacturer or even a car dealer lie every day? I think they do. DANONE is not more or less better for our health as other products in the same sector. The dealer tries to talk the product to perfection, just that we believe we need this and cannot have a better one. So it is very common. There are many other samples which show that lies are more than common. So why also a foreigner in China believes that Lies are a culture problem in China. They do what all do, no matter where we come from. And this is for the very same reason.
Of course sounds this strange when a Thai girl say she is still virgin, but have already 2 offspring running around. And yes, it is strange that a Singapore woman lies to a man, just to getting his money and run with it after one year. I guess it needs so much time to find out where the man has hidden his money. And yes, of course is it strange that a Chinese girl will say she have no boyfriend, because she see an opportunity to getting a better boy. And honestly spoken is that more understandable for me, as when a married man lies to get another girl, but not his wife, in the bed for pleasure. That is ok, isn’t it?
In that case, lies are as common as in every other country as well. There is no difference between good or bad lie nor is there a bright side of lies. A lie is a lie and is bad, however you see it. But the question of are lies illogical or tactical in Chinese culture is wrong.
China or Asia simply has a different way of perfection to cover some lies, but they are just like you and me. They lie when they see an opportunity. Don’t you think?
written by: Frank Koenig
Over the past 20 years as a consultant, marketing expert, media spokesperson, speaker and coach, he’s work has helped business owners increase their success.