TODAY   |  April 09, 2014

Is lying really so bad? How to use it as a skill

More magazine’s Lesley Jane Seymour and psychiatrist Ish Major join TODAY to tell you how lying can be used as a positive skill in life and business.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> from an early age, we're taught not to lie. but believe it or not, we all lie in some way every day, and men on average tend to lie twice as much as women.

>> we laugh, but we know that's true. but if no one's getting hurt, lying isn't always as bad as we think. it can actually help you get ahead in life in some ways. leslie jane seymour is the editor. reading that lying isn't a bad thing is counter to everything that we're taught to have a moral compass , everything you teach your children , things we teach ourselves as adults. so?

>> this is talking about in business, and there's a difference between spinning something that's a little fib kind of thing, and i'm not saying you've got to go in there and defraud your company. there's a survival mechanism that you have to do in business, where you can't tell the god's honest truth every second of the day. i grew up doing that. i was a very good girl. someone would say to me, how much are you making? i would tell them because i thought i had to be absolutely 100% honest all the time. and you get killed in business that way, as you know. you can't be like that. you have to protect yourself, you have to spin little things here and there to protect you and your business.

>> so in life general, you either lie to get out of a tough situation or to get into a better one. is that the same case in business?

>> same case in business. people lie in business for a few reasons. normally they're lying to get ahead. sometimes they're lying just to cover your back. if you missed an assignment, you're late for work. same type thing. you're trying to avoid a painful situation. give something a little more tasteful.

>> you alluded to the fact that you would always be very honest, but that got you in trouble in your career.

>> yeah, yeah. in magazines, you're booking celebrities all the time for the cover. i'll tell you the truth is, if anybody who doesn't know it the agents who handle celebrities are not always the god's honest truth tellers of the world. one time i was booking a cover. i had the girl ready we had done the photo shoot . and the agent called me and said that a direct competitor was going to run the same person at the same time and it was okay with them, ran into the direct competitor at a party and said thank you, i'm so glad we're doing this. she looked at me like this, are you crazy? get a call an hour later and the publicist says now you can't have the interview, you just blew it. and i was like, what the heck just happened to me? and what somebody on my staff said was that they were planning on pretending like they didn't know that i had the same piece, and when it came out, the agent would pretend.

>> so are we talking about lying, or spinning?

>> it's a difference.

>> there's definitely a subtle difference. it's a lie, because it's not the whole truth. but it's really more of a spin. if you're not hurting anybody, then it's more of a spin. so generally, those people think it's okay because nobody's getting hurt. just doing it to get through the day and it's okay.

>> what are the specific traits of someone who is a liar? which we all are to a certain extent.

>> people who are really good at lying ten to be more selfish, self-absorbed. they like to be admired. they like to be the center of attention. a lot of times they're very envious. and the big thing is they lack empathy. they can't really tell when they're hurting somebody's feelings, or they don't really care.

>> that's when it gets out of hand.

>> so that leads me to the question, if you are lying, even if it's a small lie, are you really getting ahead? or will this all catch up and have a negative result in the end?

>> it depends. i mean, obviously there are those people -- and we all know them -- who get lost in the whole thing. and really have lost their moral center and their compass. and that's where you don't want to go. these again, very small little things that are protecting people, or smoothing over the edges and leaving things out. that's different. got to be careful.

>> yes, absolutely.

>> by the way, that is a spectacular dress.

>> are you lying to me?

>> no, i'm not. i said