OK, admit it, we all tell White Lies, or maybe just I do
So, in reading a Journal Article recently I found some enlightening language about language:
WSJ's Elizabeth Bernstein writes "Language experts have textbook names for these phrases—"performatives," or "qualifiers." Essentially, taken alone, they express a simple thought, such as "I am writing to say…" At first, they seem harmless, formal, maybe even polite. But coming before another statement, they often signal that bad news, or even some dishonesty on the part of the speaker, will follow."
"Politeness is another word for deception," says James W. Pennebaker, chair of the psychology department of the University of Texas at Austin, who studies these phrases. "The point is to formalize social relations so you don't have to reveal your true self."
In other words, "if you're going to lie, it's a good way to do it—because you're not really lying. So it softens the blow," Dr. Pennebaker says. "
I just got off the phone with COMCAST (not a fun thing to do but sometimes it is necessary, like getting haircuts and regular bathing. In speaking to an overseas person then a supervisor in Colorado (Rocky Mountain High?) I heard some of these performatives in action, making me wonder if it was a script they were reading from. I would assume that most of what they said was truthful but you never know. Promises made with performatives often lead to broken promises, poor TV reception, slower Internet speeds and the like.
Ironically the person in Colorado had to call me back because the COMCAST voice connection on which I had called was so poor we could barely hear each other!
Any thoughts on being lied to even in a nice way? "Don't take this the wrong way, to be perfectly honest, I am serious."
Such an interesting post! Well, from a Brit's perspective we suffer fools and salespeople badly and tend to be rather blunt about it. I will always say to my bank/electricity company/phone company/etc etc to 'stop reading from the script and talk properly'. I think it's a different ethos over here and on my regular trips to the US, although I understand the culteral differences and adore you, I don't like the happy clappy way salespeople can be in shops. We tend to get left to our own miserable devices in shops and look on assistance as interference.
I would like to come over and deal with some of your companies who give you grief - they wouldn't know what had hit them as we are very direct. Last time I was in Vegas, a lovely young lady in a shop asked how we like them to be when we walk into a store, I said we were rather overwhelmed by the have a nice day thing (we'd say that only to our friends) but she was fantastic as her mum came from Luton UK and although mum now lives in the States, she said exactly the same thing - proving you can take the girl out of Luton but you can never take Luton out of the girl.
I went off track a bit there but I guess I'm trying to say a lot of companies lie but we don't let them in the UK - without a helluva fight.
Dear paulaw, the nature of deception is always hard to discern, except when it is not there, I always say. I find that most people (whom I can see) are easily uncomfortable as prevaricators: their facial expressions give them away.
I once sponsored a psychological research endeavor into "micro-facial" clues to fibbing, and well, the results are staid but accurate I would assure--people have a very difficult time being convincing liars if you watch them really closely.
On the phone it is harder to tell when they are just playing Angry Birds while pretending to be interested to what they are telling me. Being a skeptic (and no not a member of that CSI group that I mentioned a few weeks ago, I find that I assume the seller/service person is telling a whopper, then am pleased if the evidence show otherwise.
Yes, the facial expression thing is very interesting and as you say, accurate - a new computer programme known as The Silent Talker was shown in a recent TV programme, where incidentally, I had been fooled by all the people featured:
As for people we deal with on the phone, I will always state that I have no gripe or problem with them personally but with the company, so this tends to make them less defensive. Sometimes, you get someone who gives a damn and sometimes you don't and that's the way I've found it but I have come across a few companies that give me consistently good service and I therefore simplify my life by dealing only with them. If I have the displeasure of having to deal with an organisation that lacks customer service skills then the gloves are off, we both know the score, let's just do the business because we have to and I don't want them to dress it up to be a nice experience. If I feel someone is being falsely nice I will have no qualms in telling them to stop it. No time for liars or fakes I'm afraid, bottom line.
Most of the time I prefer politeness. Most - of the time. Sometimes I just want the truth. Last month when I asked an Alaska Airlines customer service supervisor 6 different ways from Sunday why Alaska Airlines cancels a paid ticket on a return flight when the passenger opts to not take the outbound flight (again, all paid for, all non-refundable), they refused to answer (instead laying the problem back on me, as in my fault). Finally, when I had them pinned against the wall sufficiently to the point that they had to admit that their repeated, canned answer indeed did not speak to the question, they conceded that they didn't know the answer (which was yet another lie, as the truthful answer was obvious, and the source of my original complaint - I just wanted them to admit it). Then to top it off, the supervisor said to me (in a very nasty tone of voice), "Have a nice day" and hung up on me. Of course, another lie; pretty certain I know what he really meant by those words ...
In this case, I would've just liked a concession for the truth: "Yes, we in the airlines industry are greedy and unscrupulous and we have you over a barrel because quite simply, we can. And oh ya, Ha Ha." At least be honest. Don't try to lie about it and turn it around by saying it's my fault.