Plato even said it: “Honest is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty.” And it’s true because most of the world’s successful people aren’t so honest. A lot of them have just mastered the art of bullshit. Have you ever wished you could say things like the following and actually get away with it?
Wine: “The merlot would pair better. Its notes complement the dish.”
Cinema: “I definitely saw that ending coming. It’s a post-modern work after all.”
Business: “It’s a no-brainer. The potential ROI will outweigh the start-up costs.”
Politics: “I haven’t seen a witch hunt like this since McCarthy’s HUAC hearings.”
Art: “What a coincidence! I can’t believe someone else here likes German Expressionist architecture as much as I do!”
Well, you can! In today’s wikified world, it’s impossible to know everything on any given subject. But you don’t have to throw in the towel once you feel you don’t have anything to contribute to the conversation. What you do is bullshit.
Good b.s. is a fine wine that spools out casually, getting better as the night goes on while keeping you from getting bogged down with everything you would normally have to do (or learn, or know). Your b.s. success is mostly determined by what your eyes, voice and body do while you’re talking, with just a bit of actual knowledge sprinkled in.
The following tips are just a taste of what you can read in my book, The Bullsh*t Artist: Learn to Bluff, Dupe, Charm, and BS with the Best of ’Em. Which will, of course, change your life.
1. Maintain the right amount of eye contact.
How you look at a person can and should change from situation to situation. Maintaining the right kind of eye contact with the person you are about to b.s. is crucial to your success. You must use your eyes to sell yourself and make the other person want to believe anything you tell them. Some studies suggest that a person will avoid direct eye contact when lying. To counteract this, some amateur liars maintain almost constant eye contact, fixating on the other person in a strange, “I want to look away but my eyes are frozen” manner. That can seem unnatural and lead to discomfort and suspicion.
Do it right: Find the perfect balance between eye contact and no eye contact. Don’t blink too much or dart your eyes. Simply remain calm, like you are talking about the weather.
2. Sound believable.
What you say and how you say it are two very different things that need to be handled separately. Physiologically speaking, when people lie, their vocal chords actually tighten. It’s an involuntary action resulting from years of being told that lying is bad and the wrong thing to do. Major indicators of lying include speaking too quickly (because you’re nervous) or too slowly (because you’re making up the story as you go along). Inserting a lot of “ums” and “uhs,” varying pitch or quickly changing the subject also raises suspicion.
Do it right: Consciously control the speed and pitch of your voice when lying. You have to sound exactly as you would in a “normal” conversation. This way, you sound believable and there’s no reason for anyone to question you.
3. Get into bodybuilding.
We’re not talking six packs and dumbbells here. The way you present yourself physically impacts your b.s. If you aren’t comfortable in your own skin, that can tip a person off before you even get any words out of your mouth. This often manifests itself in the form of fidgeting, which breaks the trust you have tried so hard to develop with the other person. When, for example, a woman sees you fidget, she loses interest in anything else you have to say. It tells her you aren’t confident.
Do it right: The other person is more apt to believe you if you come across as friendly, engaging, and ready to listen. Keep your body as open as you can, avoid crossing your arms or fidgeting. Mirroring the other person’s actions and talking with your hands are the best ways to show you are paying attention. Don’t overthink it. Just be in the moment and pay attention to the other person. You’ll come across much calmer.
4. Stay connected.
Smartphones are game changers in the world of b.s. They can actually make our jobs much harder, because the other person essential has a lie detector in his pocket. Your b.s. can unravel in seconds with a couple taps on a touchscreen, so you don’t want to throw around hard facts and figures unless you actually know them.
Do it right: Do not fear the iPhone. Use Wikipedia on the sly to get just enough information to make stuff up, then carry it forward confidently so that no feels the need to take a phone out and fact-check it in the first place.
5. Walk the tightrope.
Successful b.s. is an intense balancing act. You have to be creative but not crazy. Ballsy but not jerky. Sly but not sleazy. Confident but not cocky. And charming but not phony.
Do it right: Be attentive, use your dishonesty to your advantage, and b.s with the utmost care. That’s what differentiates a Bullshit Artist from any ol’ person who can lie.