How do you deal with a compulsive liar?

I have a workmate who has a massive repertoire of tall tales involving himself. Even after being implicitly accused* of it he continues to do it in front of me.

He’s a balloonist, a sailor, a graphic designer. He’s saved people’s lives, owned a snake, bedded a gymnast, exacted creative revenge on his neighbours, designed our company logo**, caught the biggest fish, to name but the things remembered by someone with a notoriously bad memory (in other words he’s claimed credit for enough deeds to make it certain he’s lying. A certainty which can be arrived at by many other means)

We’ve a new in-joke, If we need an expert… “I’ll just ask [name], he’s bound to have been a [occupation]!”

[sub]*by me, I said one day “Bloody hell [name], is there anything you haven’t done!” From which I unexpectedly recieved a reply which showed I struck a nerve. I later found out that he was telling another workmate about what I said, and the workmate laughed and said that [what I said] was funny. Since then the first-mentioned workmate has been complementing his personality I hear
*One day we were asked by our new boss to vote on which of three logos we liked best. The consensus was that the third one was best but [name] liked the second, and he was alone in that. To strengthen his position he came out with “Look, I was a graphic designer” to which I snapped and implied that he was a liar He then proceeded to claim he’d designed the old company logo in half an hour (this logo has been seen on billboard at uk football grounds of major clubs, seen on TV by millions) and had a go at a logo for the new company… which ended up being a bag of shite… something a 12 year old could do better[/sub]

I mean ‘contemplating’

I’ve dealt with people like that before. I’ve found that the best response is just to be a poor audience.

Guy: “I saved an old lady from being trampled by an elephant!”

Me: Blank stare. "Uh huh. "

Guy: “It was seventeen feet tall, and was tearing apart the city!”

Me: Yawn “You don’t say.”

Guy: “Then I went sky-diving with (celebrity).”

Me: "Hmm. Yeah. " buffs nails on shirt “Hey did you get that report done?”

I know it’s terribly rude, but people like this only desire attention and awe from their audience. If you deprive them of it, they’ll go elsewhere. Keep changing the subject to work-related or other boring things, act extremely bored, mention you have to go do something, or start doing paperwork while they’re talking. It’s the only thing I’ve found that works.

The problem with all that is I’m compulsively eager to please. I am an expert at displaying boredom but the compulsive liar (or other generic motormoth) doesn’t notice, However I fail to interrupt people with mundane questions. I am so worried about my own reputation that I often let people speak until there is a gap long enough to indicate they have finished talking.

I can act as if I am listening to the history of rust, but interrupt an aquaintence in full-egotrip? I am hopeless!

Is he any good at telling tall tales?

If he is, I’d just chalk it up as cheap entertainment.
Otherwise, ignore, ignore, ignore.
I’d give you more advice but I’m late for a dinner date with the President Bush. He wants toi speak with me about the current state of the economy.

I derive entertainment from telling more respected workmates of his tall tales.

He’s surprisingly good, to the point where I think he would make a passable children’s story writer.

So far I do ignore. I fein interest which is a form of ignoring.

It sounds like your working with Commander McBragg. “In his world he’s a king, he can do anything!, or so says the brag of McBragg”.

Does he gain any kind of social or work-related benefit from these lies? If not, and especially if he knows that other people know he’s lying and still can’t stop, that’s a sign of a major psychological problem on the OCD spectrum. Tell him to look into it.

I have a relative like the guy you work with. She is always saying she has been to places she hasn’t been, spends time with people she has never met, etc. So I do just the opposite of ignore. I act so very impressed, and want to know ALL the details.

“You have been to the Louvre? How fortunate for you! Tell me, did it bother you when looking at the Mona Lisa to have all those guards standing around, with those big machine guns? I have heard others say that really surprised them to find the Mona Lisa protected by 8 armed guards and in such a huge room all by itself. What did you think about that? And what about the size of the Mona Lisa, everyone mentions how shocked they are when they see it in person. What were your feelings of the size of the picture?”

She then starts to stutter and says yes, all those guards bothered her too, and it was in a big impressive room. And yes, the Mona Lisa is just HUGE, it certainly surprised her as well. Then she notices people looking at her funny, because they have heard the Mona Lisa is actually hard to find in a little out of the way place, and it is quite small. Then she will change the subject before I can ask anymore details she won’t know.

She has learned I will remember what she says also. “Didn’t you say you met Jane Fonda when you were in California last spring? Or was it last fall?” She can’t remember when it was she said she met her, so she will change the subject, and go off to find someone else to impress.

So instead of being annoyed by her, I make a game of it, and find it quite amusing now.

There’s a suspicion that a person where I work is like that. She has claimed to have done everything. And if you name something she hasn’t done, she knows someone who has done it.

The only way I can cope with it is to crack jokes about her behind her. Petty and passive-aggressive, I know. But I don’t have the heart to call her a liar to her face (cuz what if she’s telling the truth!)

I’d be worried. I knew a guy like that once. His stories were just unbelieveable, but after a while it became clear that he did believe them. He became more and more distanced from reality and unstable, and it was pretty frightening. I don’t know what happened to him, sadly, but I doubt that it was good.

I worked with a guy like this a few years ago and he was a wonder to behold.
He even weaseled his way into our annual golf trip one year and the fellow sharing a room with him was ready to kill him on the second day.

Generally we had two ways of handling him; just walk away or(the more playful in the group) put on your most serious face, place tongue firmly in cheek and ask the most outrageous questions you could think of.

He never failed to rise to the occasion.We once figured out, to do everything he claimed, he would have to be 75-80 yrs. old. He was 25-30!

Don’t know where he is now, no doubt bringing charm, wit and entertainment into a new group of mundane, boring lives.

  • I do know however, he once flew his General to London (Eng) for supper and back. He thought he was going to London ( Ontario ) From Trenton ( big air force base here ) But no, once in the air, the General said London, England and so off they went.

Gotta love shit like that!

I worked with a guy like that once; it’s often an attention-seeking behaviour and by challenging the lies, you’re still giving the person the attention they desire. You can’t completely ignore it, but you can politely acknowledge without inquiring for more details, so:

Compulsive Liar: I’m training to be an astronaut
You: Oh, that’s nice

CL: I have a pet giraffe
You: Yeah, I heard about that.

CL: I’m going to circumnavigate the globe this weekend
You: A lot of people spend their leisure time that way nowadays

Avoid “really?” and “are you?” type responses. There’s a possibility that noncomittal, non-interested responses will provoke the person to tell ever-more-outlandish tales in order to grab your attention.

Mangetout ; You like playing with them too, don’tcha?

I worked with someone like that but I did get something good out of it. I was talking to another workmate about how Steve could top anything you ever said and the workmate said, “Yeah he is the worst black catter I have ever known.”

I asked what a black catter was and he was surprised that I had never heard it before, “You know. You have a fast car …his car is faster. You have a big boat…his boat is bigger. You have a cat that is black…his cat is blacker.”

I started a thread a couple of months ago about such a person.
Try this;
Ask the guy really detailed questions about exact things that he’s done and watch him squirm.

I’d guess that this guy has a low opinion of himself. My guess is that his compulsive lying is an attempt to be a better person than himself (as impossible as that may be to accomplish), and calling him on it will just make him want to defend his ego. He probably knows by now that he lies, but if he’s like most of the compulsive people I’ve met, he just does an “Oops, I did it again!” (if he even does that), and just leaves it at since he doesn’t know how to process it farther.

Me? I’d give him what he wants, so long as it didn’t get in the way of work. Just say stuff like “Wow!”, "That’s incredible!, or “I’m thinking of starting a flamingo farm. Do you have any experience?” (ok, maybe not the last one), then excuse yourself and get back to work. Talk is cheap, and everyone knows that he wasn’t a graphic designer on a rescue blimp in the Soviet navy.

Then again, if you have any say in assigning projects you could do what I saw one manager do; put him on an out of the way job with the other nut(s) in the office and let them drive each other crazy where it won’t affect the rest of the staff. They will probably get their job done, and the rest of you can work in peace.

How do you deal with a compulsive liar? I divorced mine.

My ex was a compulsive liar, and it was definately to the point of sickness. He told me he’d graduated from university (he took one class and dropped out), that he’d been to the NYS Empire State Games for volleyball (He hadn’t, and I never saw him play, even recreationally), that he’d owned a motorcycle (he had pictures of him sitting on a bike, but it wasn’t his and he didn’t have a license), and on and on and on. I figured it out shortly after we were married, and amazingly he would lie about things right in front of me to other people that I KNEW weren’t true and it didn’t seem to phase him a bit.

When I told him I was leaving, he actually said to me “I wondered how long it would be before you figured it all out and left.” Um, wow. .Crazy as hell.

When he lied to me, I usually let it pass because I realized it really was a sickness. I encouraged him to seek therapy (he didn’t) and toward the end I would confront him. He would generally just ignore my confrontations and find a better audience.

Our joke used to be “How do you know when T*** is lying? His lips are moving!” I swear if he told you it was sunny outside you had to look out the window and check- everything out of his mouth was a lie.

I just rememberized: I was a CL once, but my CLing took the form of “I didn’t do it” type lying. Yep, I was a difficult child.

always consider them lying about everything they say, never trust em, ever! They’re also Academy Award Performers, keep that in mind when they turn on the tears, on cue, and oh yea, when they play dumb, “i have no idea… for FUCK sake, I really dont know what you’re talking about!!!”
hate those kind of fuckers.