If you’re convinced you’re being lied to, then comes the question of how to handle it.
Birkel says it’s up to you whether the lie is worth confronting. Consider how important the context actually is, what the consequences could be if the behavior goes unchecked or unresolved, and what you understand about this person, he adds. “It is best to take a pause and reflect on their why,” adds Spinelli. And again, it’s important to figure out what your boundaries are.
If you do decide you want to confront the issue, Spinelli says it’s important to do so gently and without attacking, as this will likely upset anyone. “You may want to approach them with, ‘I noticed that there was something off in what you said. Are you sure that what you shared is actually what you meant to say?'” she explains.
You can also let them know you’d like to have a conversation at a time when you’re both calm and can have some privacy. “Hear them out first and explore what their motivation without criticism but with curiosity,” she says, adding, “You can then decide after that what you may want to do with this situation—maintain the relationship, set boundaries, and/or share what you would expect moving forward.”
Speaking of moving forward, according to Birkel, this is where it will be really important for you to honor your own boundaries and know when to disengage (either from the conversation or the person entirely). If they won’t admit the truth, that’s their problem, not yours, he says, noting that you can say outright, “This doesn’t feel very open or authentic to me, I need to take a break from this conversation.”
And if they have admitted they were lying, Birkel says, you can offer some solutions or expectations for how you’d like things to be handled in the future. For example, you could say, “Let’s make a plan about how to avoid these kind of communication issues in the future,” he suggests.