15 Little White Lies Everyone Is Guilty of Telling Every Day

“You did great”

iStock/Andrew Rich

Other than the fact that you failed miserably, that is. We all want to know that we’re successful at whatever it is we’re doing. It’s good for our self-esteem. And, as has been reported over and over, to that end, our society has gone crazy slapping each other on the back or awarding trophies for coming in 12th. But even kids as young as four aren’t fooled by false praise. Children “are surprisingly accurate in identifying who excels and who struggles,” Ashley Merryman, co-author of Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing, wrote in the New York Times. “Those who are outperformed know it and give up, while those who do well feel cheated when they aren’t recognized for their accomplishments.” Even narcissistic adults aren’t always fooled. I remember one at-bat on my high school baseball team. With the winning run on base, I hit a dribbler back to the pitcher who turned it into a double play. My sister, the kindest woman in the world, yelled from the stands, “At least you hit it!” Shortly after that, I took up Checkers. Here are 11 more things parents say that ruin their kids’ trust.

“I’ve had (fill in the blank) sex partners”


Oh yeah, sure. It turns out that neither men nor women get the number right. In a recent survey, heterosexual women report 8.6 lifetime sexual partners while heterosexual men chalk up 31.9. But, says psychologist Norman R. Brown at the University of Michigan, these surveys are inherently flawed. That’s because women rely on a raw count. “They tend to say, ‘I just know,’ and if you ask them to explain how they know, they say, ‘Well, there was John, Tom, etc,’” Brown told LiveScience. Men, on the other hand, use a rough approximation, “a strategy known to produce over-estimation.” I myself have had roughly 12,000 sex partners, give or take 12,000. Find out which white lies it’s OK to tell your partner.

“No, I don’t have any questions”


Yes you do. Probably loads. But whether it’s at work, talking to your accountant, or flying to Mars, when asked, “Do you have any questions?” few of us are willing to look clueless and ask, “Can you please go over that for the 12th time?” Instead, we feign knowledge. Get over it, say experts. “If you have questions and they will affect your ability to do a good job, you will need to find some answers,” corporate consultant Gabriela Cora, MD, told CNN. If you’re worried about your reputation, CNN suggests you “preface your question by saying that you just want to be certain you understand everything completely.”

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