Lying when you tell stories — when SHOULD you? BWSS #6!

We’re told it’s bad to lie. But most of us have been caught out at some point, telling a story and having a friend say, “Wait… THAT’s not how it happened..!!”

There’s a reason for that! Here, I’m going to tell you four times when you ABSOLUTELY SHOULD lie in your stories! Listen, or read the transcript below!

 

So… do you lie in any of these instances? Or are you about to start? Let me know in the comments below! And if you know someone who us PAINFULLY truthful in stories and perhaps shouldn’t be — you can share this with them using one of the round buttons below.

Thanks so much for reading and listening! You can find all eight of the Baby Walk Story Sessions audio trainings and transcripts here: yesyemarsha.com/bwss, and they’re also up on Soundcloud HERE, on iTunes HERE or on stitcher HERE.

 

You rule!

 

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

PS if this sort of chatty learning is your bag, come and join the Yes Yes Family. Every week, I send you (FREE!) weekly coaching via email AND you get my (ALSO FREE!) guide for the Magic Bullet when it comes to making any story captivating. Just pop your details in here;

 

Transcript

When is it OK to lie when you’re telling a story? When should you be telling the truth?

This is the Baby Walk Story sessions where I’m teaching you about stories while walking around with a baby on my back. Currently in the local park. Full disclosure, there’s a guy boxing. But the guy who he’s boxing, he’s like a trainer. Instead of having those punching pads, he’s using two pool noodles. Awesome.

OK. So when should you lie and when should you tell the truth in a story?

There is an adage, “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

I actually believe that to be a rule in storytelling. But what I mean by that is not, “lie just to make yourself sound good.”

I talked in earlier episodes about how really what you’re trying to do in a story is you’re trying to elicit a Freaky Friday style body swap between the person listening to the story or reading the story and you in that moment. And one of the things you need to do to make that happen within the limitations of telling your story is this:

Do whatever you need to do to make the person feel the way that you felt in that moment.

 

Sometimes there are things in stories where if you included the truth, it derails people. And here is where the lying comes in.

WHEN TO LIE:

REASON 1: When you story is too long or has too many characters

Let’s say you had a conversation that happened over three parts. There’s some essential bit of information you need to get across. But it came a little bit from the first conversation, a little bit from the second, a little bit from the third. If, in your story, you were to go through every single conversation, it might actually make that story too long and too boring.

So what you can do is pretend that it all happened in one conversation.

Similarly, one of the things is having too many extraneous characters.

Think about the basic thing that I told you in episode two: When you’re telling a story, you’re making a movie inside someone’s brain.

If you have extraneous characters — if you introduce a character that then doesn’t come back — they just become of out-of-work actors standing around on the side of your listener’s brains.

Say you introduce your best friend Sally. First of all, it’s a bit more information that person has to take in. But also they’re going to think, “Oh, I guess she’s important. I need to retain that information.”

Then every scene, they’re going to wonder, “Where’s Sally? Where’s Sally? Is she coming back?”

So if Sally isn’t that important, then just pretend she was never there (as long as she won’t be offended by it — see next episode for a small caveat to this)

So get rid of Sally. Or maybe Sally and your mum were there and Sally said one thing that’s kind of important to the story, but didn’t say anything else. Then as long as Sally is not going to be offended by it, just get your mum to say it.

Again, you’re thinking about what’s important in the story. If you listened to episode one, you ask yourself, “Why am I telling this story? What do I want people to do differently as a result?”

So if somebody says something that is essential, then you can keep what they say and you don’t necessarily have to keep them in. Equally, if what’s essential isn’t going to be changed by getting rid of one of those people, then I would say get rid of them.

 

REASON 2: Make the person feel the way that you felt.

Maybe there were 50 people there but it felt like 100. As long as nobody is going to question you and say, “Oh, actually, it was only 50,” then I would just say that there are 100 there.

I personally think that’s OK. That’s what I do in my day to day.

You will know this about good storytellers in your life. Sometimes you’re with them and you’re thinking, “Oh, it didn’t happen exactly like that…” But they’re trying to get across how it felt in that moment. Again, as long as it’s not going to offend anyone or be openly questioned by anyone, then I think that that’s OK.

 

REASON 3: To protect people in the story

Sometimes, when you’re telling a story, if you were to tell the truth, it could actually really mess things up for someone or it could ruin your relationship with them.

Again, if the information doesn’t need to be there, either you can take it out or you can replace it.

So for example: I had a client who wanted to tell her story. She was a life coach. Prt of her story involved the fact that she was in a relationship with someone who wasn’t treating her very well. But she still has to co-parent with that person now. So she doesn’t want to throw them under the bus.

What we did was found a way to talk about other circumstances that could have made her feel that way.

 

Another example: a part of someone’s story I helped with was that they got rake thin. The reason they got rake thin was because they were in their early 20s and they went through a very, very, very brief phase of taking some class A drugs.

Being rake thin was essential to the story — but they didn’t want to talk about the circumstances, and they weren’t important. So we just changed the truth. We just said that they got sick, and that’s why they were thin.

What mattered here wasn’t HOW they got there, just that they did.

 

So think about what matters — which information is essential —and then you can bend the how.

 

REASON 3: You don’t want to derail people

Sometimes it’s that something outrageous happened. But that actually isn’t part of the story. So say – I don’t know.

There’s a point where you need a red box in your story because this red box appeared. Maybe in real life, it was brought in by a clown who was on stilts. But you realize that if you mention the clown on stilts without going into it more, then everyone is just going to say, “Wait, what? Clown on stilts?” and they’re going to stop listening to your story.

So just have somebody walking past in the café put down the red box.

Similarly, sometimes there are things in your story that — just by coincidence — happen to fit into a trope that is racist or homophobic or misogynous. You know, some kind of cliché of a minority.

If you put it in — even though it’s true! — people are going to think that you’re just being racist or homophobic or misogynous or xenophobic or whatever.

If it doesn’t need to be there, then take it out or change it.

Omitting things is not the same as lying.

And bending the truth is OK.

 

The one time I would say not to do this is if changing the truth is going to hurt anyone or if someone is going to call you out.

If you’re telling a story about what happened last year at this conference and half the room are going to think, “Ah, it didn’t really happen like that.”

Or if you know someone who’s going to call you out publicly, then either talk to them about it in advance, or don’t bend the truth

 

Otherwise, it’s OK to bend the truth sometimes.

 

Thank you so much for reading! If you have any thoughts let me know in the comments below.

If you know anyone that bends the truth sometimes and you want to tell them it’s OK — or if you know someone that doesn’t, and is always saying, “No. It was a Tuesday. Wait. Was it Tuesday or Wednesday? I can’t remember. I think it was a Wednesday. No, it was a Tuesday.” — one of those people — then you could share this with them too and say, “It doesn’t matter. Let it go.” Just use one of the round buttons below.

 

 

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